Fortunately, that could soon change. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are both advising their members -- major food makers and retailers -- to completely do away with typical labels like 'sell by' or 'expires on' and replace it with two standard labels. One would be a "best if used by" date for most foods and the other would be a "use by" date label on food products that might become unsafe to eat over time; for example, raw seafood, according to the report.
Although it's unclear if the food manufacturers and retailers will adopt the suggested labeling, the groups' push appears to align with a guidance document for meat and dairy product labeling issued by the USDA last year, which as the report explains, called for a universal "best if used by" label. With any luck, food waste will decrease due to the changes, but considering the current state of affairs in the world, well, you probably shouldn't bet on it.