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H.R. 5298 (114th): Food Date Labeling Act of 2016

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 19, 2016.

Food Date Labeling Act of 2016

This bill establishes requirements that: (1) address food waste that occurs when people throw out fresh food because of their confusion over the meaning of expiration dates on food labels and whether or not the food is still safe to eat, and (2) standardize quality date and safety date food labels. Producers, manufacturers, distributors, or retailers that place a date label on food packaging of a product (food labelers) must use the phrases "best if used by" to indicate food quality and the phrase "expires on" to warn of food that may be unsafe to eat after a specified date.

While labelers may voluntarily choose to include a quality date on packaging, they must include a safety date on ready-to-eat products.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) must establish guidance for food labelers on how to determine quality dates and safety dates for food products.

No one may prohibit the sale, donation, or use of a product after the quality date for the product has passed.

USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services must educate consumers on the meaning of quality date and safety date food labels.