May 13, 2021

Survey shows plenty of confusion still out there regarding use by dates

With food waste a major concern in the United States, food producers have attempted to minimize unnecessary waste by altering language around dates on packages.

A recent study published in the Journal Nutrition Education and Behavior indicated there is still quite a bit of confusion on the meanings and difference of “Best If Used By” and “Use By” labeling.

The report, based on a 2019 survey of more than 2,600 participants, stated that only 64% of those who said they use label dates to guide purchasing actually understood the general meaning of “Best if Used By.” For “Use By,” it was even lower at 48%. Following the initial answer, the participants received education on the two meanings, which resulted in the understanding rate rising to about 82% for both.

Prior to the survey, roughly 90% of the participants said they felt they had proper understanding of the two meanings, however, once quizzed, only 64% and 48%, respectively, had understood what each meant.

“Thus, a challenge for future educational messaging is capturing the attention of consumers who believe they already know the information, find it so familiar as to be boring, or are satisfied with a rough understanding of how to use the labels,” the journal report stated.

The full report can be found here.

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