Look in any refrigerator around the country and you’ll probably see a lot of different labels that indicate expiration dates. But “best by,” “use by” and “sell by” don’t all mean the same thing. And that can get a bit confusing for consumers, many of whom end up wasting a lot of food that’s not actually expired.

So the U.S. Department of Agriculture is recommending that meat, egg and dairy manufacturers use just one label – “best if used by.” The actual labeling will still be left up to each individual company. But having one consistent standard makes a lot of sense for consumers, the environment and food companies.

“Best if used by” is a label that lets customers know when food is past its peak freshness, even if it’s not technically expired. So consumers can make the determination on their own whether their food is fresh enough to actually eat by using the smell test.

Consistency and Customer Satisfaction Go Hand-in-Hand

And having one standard labeling system can eliminate a lot of the confusion for food shoppers, since they theoretically won’t have to compare the freshness of food that uses completely different labeling standards. And even improving the customer experience in that seemingly small way can potentially get customers to buy more often and boost customer satisfaction.

Food Shopper Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Food Labels Could Be Getting a Makeover (Watch)” was first published on Small Business Trends