It's not you. Date labels on food make no sense.

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  • Published on:  Friday, June 22, 2018
  • Food labels don’t mean what you think they mean.

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    When people clean out their fridge, they look at whatever date is on the label and throw it in the trash if it’s past that date. But the chances are that you’re throwing out tons of perfectly good food because date labels on food are often really confusing.

    Food labels can mean many different things and often don’t give you any indication of whether the food is safe to eat or not. Many people assume that they’re federally regulated, but baby formula is the only product required to have consistent date labels. For everything else it’s up to the states to decide.

    This creates a confusing state-by-state patchwork of labels with everything from “use by” to “freshest before” to “sell by” to “packaged on.”

    And all this confusion causes us to waste tons of food every year. All the uneaten food waste costs Americans over $200 billion each year, and two thirds of that comes from households.

    If we came up with a unified, easy to understand date label system we could save money, food, and help the environment, all just by changing how we put date labels on the things we eat. is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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  • Vox
    Vox  3 months ago +313

    Expiration dates aren’t the only confusing part of food packaging. Here’s why the “natural” food label on so many grocery store items is meaningless:

  • Red Potter
    Red Potter  5 days ago

    You guys forgot Massachusetts on your map

  • Nicolas Butzbach
    Nicolas Butzbach  9 days ago

    In Italy we have two very simple systems:
    Da consumarsi entro (that means that after that date it might be harmful)
    Da consumarsi preferibilmente entro (that means that after that date it is still safe but might taste odd)

  • Stylaffulus
    Stylaffulus  11 days ago

    4:29 Unhand me you furless fiend!!

  • Kelsey Carbary
    Kelsey Carbary  12 days ago

    *makes some awful joke * "I don't deserve love" same lol

  • Jenna Schroeder
    Jenna Schroeder  14 days ago

    This makes my blood boil. So much wasted food AND money. C'mon people, we can do better!!!

  • devonalexac
    devonalexac  15 days ago

    Where’s new jersey located of that puzzle map? 2:56

  • Anna Ryan
    Anna Ryan  15 days ago

    My mom always told my the dates in foods are not accurate and to just throw something away if it’s moldy or tastes or smells sour or rotten

  • Noah Andersen
    Noah Andersen  25 days ago

    guys how is this so hard just make a best before label
    it works in Denmark

  • Lili Koch
    Lili Koch  1 months ago

    ive never seen a sell by date

  • David Bezemer
    David Bezemer  1 months ago

    In Norway many labels have now been changed to state "best before , but not bad after" and foods with more safety concerns such as raw chicken have a freshness indicator on the package which is a small vial filled with a chemical compound that changes color based on age and temperature.

  • Boo Ski
    Boo Ski  1 months ago

    I thought soy boys only needed to read the ONE label.

  • Laura Klobusicky
    Laura Klobusicky  1 months ago

    Um.. on your little magnet map there you kind of forgot NEW JERSEY.

  • Mshojat
    Mshojat  1 months ago

    The only date labels that should exist is "production date", along with possibly having other things like "estimated shelf-life based on testing" and/or "texture and/or taste may change around ____". It's terrible the amount of misinformation that exists amongst consumers, and the lack of proactiveness amongst businesses regarding this issue.

  • AlkalineGamingHD
    AlkalineGamingHD  1 months ago

    It is not the responsibility of the federal government. This is an issue for states and their people to decide. Give the vote back to the people

  • chowner
    chowner  1 months ago

    Vox can find away to blame anything on the gop

  • robert centeno
    robert centeno  1 months ago +1

    I knew this from the tv show Adam ruins everything

  • Mr. Reborn
    Mr. Reborn  1 months ago

    Literally none of the labels you just mentioned are difficult to understand.

  • Chance Ussery
    Chance Ussery  1 months ago

    Sometimes you have to go by smell. But sometimes that doesn't work. I had a back of turkey bacon that looked and smelled good but made me sick. And how come lettuce only last 2 days now?

  • Jared Bland
    Jared Bland  2 months ago

    33 bucks a month in wasted food per person? That sounds a little excessive. I dont buy 15lb of chicken breast per month and proceed to throw it out.