When customers browse through items in the grocery store, they often search for products with extended shelf lives. Whether out of necessity or convenience, many consumers rely on food date labels to find foods that are more likely to survive the week without going to waste. Below, we discuss what businesses should know about food date labels to create the most accurate labels for their products.
A common misconception is that best-before labels indicate the last day you can safely consume a food item. Many customers associate this terminology with terms such as “use-by” and “expires on,” which tell the consumer to throw away foods that have passed the dates that they show. However, this myth is entirely false and leads to excessive and unnecessary food waste.
Best-before labels indicate the last day on which a food product will maintain its highest quality. For example, seasoning or flavor concentrates within produce may become less potent after a specific date, which will affect the standard quality of the products. To avoid confusing customers with these labels, use clear, precise language and avoid phrases such as “use by” or “expires on.”
People also often think that sell-by-date labels are food safety indicators. However, sell-by date labels aren’t relevant to customer consumption at all. In actuality, businesses use these labels to determine how long they should keep food products available in their store displays.
These dates help businesses keep track of store inventory and help them keep new products and items refreshed on the shelves for customers. These labels don’t represent food quality and safety whatsoever. Companies can better label their sell-by dates by positioning labels on the bottom or back of products. Sticking these labels on the front or top of packages only confuses customers, who assume these labels are for their knowledge.
When considering what to know about food date labels, food companies often overlook freeze-by dates. However, these dates regularly confuse customers and lead them to waste food. Freeze-by dates on frozen food products let customers know when they should freeze products to maintain peak quality. Similar to expiration date labels, freeze-by dates give customers an indication of when food flavor and quality start to decline. They don’t exist for safety reasons. If products do have specific freezing or temperature requirements, other product instructions are present to make customers aware of this fact.
Providing high-quality freeze-by labels can prevent customers from misinterpreting product information. For example, using a sticker label printer to create clear and visible freeze-by dates will help customers distinguish these labels from real health alerts.
Proper date labeling can clear common consumer misconceptions and reduce a large amount of unnecessary food waste. Ensure the best safety for customers by providing separate labels that clarify how to consume food safely and how to enjoy products ideally.