Letters to the Editor: It’s time to standardize food expiration dates. How about ‘discard by’?

A frozen pizza that expired three years ago
A woman who spoke to columnist David Lazarus recently received a frozen pizza that expired three years ago.
(Agneta Yilmaz)

To the editor: Having read the column by David Lazarus about expiration dates on foods and experiencing, like so many other people, the confusing “use by,” “sell by” and “best if used by” labels, I had an idea: Why not change all labels simply to read “discard by” or “do not use by”?

Obviously, some frozen foods have a longer “shelf” life than foods like cereals, which actually sit on a shelf. But after all these years, food manufacturers and packagers must have enough experience to know how long their products should last.

I’m sure a lot of people would protest — “How dare they tell me when to throw my food away!” — but at least it might take the guesswork out of deciding whether a can, bag or box of food should be kept or thrown away.

And, if those people would rather not follow the label, they’ve got no one to blame but themselves (unless of course the food actually goes bad before the “discard by” date).


Stan Glaser, Yorba Linda


To the editor: I had to laugh at the Ralph’s spokesman who said the supermarket chain would be “stepping up efforts to ensure all food products on the shelf are fresh.”

Stepping up efforts? Isn’t that one of the main jobs of any supermarket? It’s like saying, “We were just coasting along in the food freshness area, and now we are going to take it more seriously.”

Tony Blake, Woodland Hills