How Different Expiration Date Labels Impact Consumer Behavior

Last registered on April 25, 2017


Trial Information

General Information

How Different Expiration Date Labels Impact Consumer Behavior
Initial registration date
April 25, 2017
Last updated
April 25, 2017, 2:38 PM EDT



Primary Investigator

University of Delaware

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Cornell University
PI Affiliation
University of Delaware

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, millions of Americans are throwing out good food because they believe it’s not safe to eat after the date on the package. However, throwing food away after the labeled dates is mainly due to consumers’ misunderstanding, as these dates are not standardized and the labeled food products are usually safe to consume long past these dates. To help address this misunderstanding, some have advocated for standardizing expiration date labels. Three leading options for these labels are: “best if used by”, “use by”, and “expired on”. This research analyzes 1) how the addition of an expiration date label changes consumer preference functions with respect to different production dates of a food product; and 2) how consumers’ willingness to consume the same food product varies with different labeling language.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

, , Tongzhe Li and . 2017. "How Different Expiration Date Labels Impact Consumer Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. April 25.
Former Citation
, et al. 2017. "How Different Expiration Date Labels Impact Consumer Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. April 25.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
consumer preference
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
consumers’ willingness to consume a product

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We offer otherwise homogeneous products that are four days after, one day after, right on, one day before, or six days before their “expiration.” All five products are presented to each participant as a within-subject design. Moreover, we introduce a between-subject design that differs by specific labeling language in order to test how different date labels influence consumer behavior. Other than the aforementioned labeling treatments, we have a fourth treatment that mimics how some developing countries label food products. In the fourth treatment, both production date and shelf life of the product are provided instead of the one “expiration” date. Moreover, we have a control group where no expiration date is provided, while the participants are only informed the production dates.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization by Python Willow
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
260 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
minimum of 52 in each treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
52 individual in each treatment

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Delaware
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials