Industry Date Labeling Initiative Provides More Info
As part of an ongoing joint Product Code Date Labeling initiative, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association have released two new documents: a white paper providing general background, context and resources regarding the effort, and specific, detailed implementation guidelines for manufacturers and retailers that adopt the voluntary industry-standard nomenclature for product code date labels.
The initiative, which aims to reduce consumer confusion about product date labels by adopting standard wording on packaging, originally launched last February.
According to Arlington, Va.-based FMI, “This initiative is part of a larger process to bring transparency and clarity to consumers about the quality of their products; it’s a conversation with the consumer that will progress over time.”
Further, the trade organization noted that the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA) Product Code Date labeling working group was currently shaping a consumer education campaign, slated to roll out in 2018, to boost awareness and application of the dates.
In a Q&A featured in the white paper, Joe Colalillo, president of ShopRite of Hunterdon County Inc., and chairman and CEO of Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp said: “At ShopRite, our purpose is to care deeply for people to help them eat well and be happy. This initiative will help us fulfill our purpose by reducing the confusion that currently exists around product dating and helping consumers avoid unnecessary food waste. It connects back to everything we’re already committed to as a company: reducing food waste, fighting hunger in our communities, keeping foods safe, and making sure our customers have the tools and information they need to enjoy the foods they buy and get the best value for their dollar.”
In the guidelines, the TPA lays out the two date label options (see infographic at top right) as:
- BEST If Used By: to inform consumers that the product can continue to be used or consumed, but that there might be some flavor or performance degradation.
- USE By: to inform consumers to dispose the product.
Both new documents are free to download on FMI’s website.