'Use by' food labeling leads to waste, not safety
A new report says Americans dump 160 billion tons of food annually because expiration dates have no real standards or accuracy.
Americans love food, but we're also very profligate with it. An estimated 40% of all food in the U.S. goes uneaten and gets thrown out -- wasting at least 160 billion pounds of food annually.
That amount is close to criminal when you consider what the experts delicately call the growing issue of "food insecurity" in America and around the world or the fact that close to 15% of people in the U.S. struggle daily to get enough to eat.
A new study says a big part of the problem is the arbitrary "use by" or "sell by" expiration labels that food producers put on all sorts of products. The study by the Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council says a lack of federal oversight on expiration labels not only creates confusion but causes consumers to throw out food that's still safe.
"The dates are undefined in law and have nothing to do with safety," Emily Broad Leib, director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic and the study's lead author, told WBZ NewsRadio in Boston. "They are just a manufacturer suggestion of peak quality."
The study found that 90% of consumers dispose of food by the use-by date, "When we just rely on these dates and throw everything away after the date, we're leading to really high rates of food waste," Leib said. "Consumers need to take that extra minute to actually look at their food and smell their food and make an assessment."
The study's researchers say the only food product with explicit, Food and Drug Administration date-labeling requirements is infant formula. They're calling on the food industry and government policymakers to clarify and standardize these labels.
The report also notes that a lot of hunger in the U.S. could be eliminated by redistributing just 30% of the food that ends up wasted.
"We are pushing for a coherent, reliable and consistent system for consumers that can help them really understand what the dates mean," Leib said, "and standardize across products and across dates."
The "expire" date is a nice benchmark. It can suggest when that second sniff, a second taste, is in order. Unless you're a moron you can use various combinations of eyes, nose, and taste buds to tell you when the bacon may be going, the eggs aren't ok, the bread has turned, etc.
Those events usually don't occur until long (LONG) after the product's expiration date. For example, peanut butter often has three or more years of good shelf life beyond it's "expire" date.
Of course one does not want to eat food that has turned. But the expiration date on the product has very little bearing, if any at all, on that event. It's mostly a sales tool, right up there with "change your auto's oil every 3,000 miles!" Use your head and stop throwing good food away.
It's just poor planning by people. If something is on sale don't buy a bunch of it, if you aren't going to have time to use it.
Stores that I worked in as a teenager donated all expired food to the food bank including dented cans, store baked items, or mangled boxed items. There was no waste at the store level.
Just another reason to shut down the Federal Gov't. They force companies to date food that is edible so it gets thrown out, just to keep the economy going and people on food stamps.
Milk has a natural expiration date. When it smells like bad cheese, don't drink it! Meat has a natural expiration date. When it smells like week old bloated road kill, don't eat it!
Cereal has a natural expiration date. When the meal worms start consuming it. don't eat it, but use the worms for fishing and eat fresh fish.
Dates don't mean anything if you freeze or can a lot of the food. Teach families how to can. Waste goes away.
If they are canned goods, which is the main thing that lasts beyond the use by date in my house, I'll open the can and taste it first and can't recall a time I had a problem.
This a staged article about food labeling. Expiration dates are not the problem the problem is getting Americans to believe labeling is useless GMO next watch!
On a McCormick spices site (http://mccormick2.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/11/~/what-is-the-shelf-life-of-mccormick-products) I found a list of how long various spices kept their usefulness. I printed it out and taped in inside the cupboard door where I keep the spices other than the most frequently used ones on my rack:
In my home, if it's past it's use-by date and costs less than a trip to the ER it gets tossed.
I've learned the hard way that things which look and smell fine can still make one very, very ill.
Of course this means we keep smaller quantities of such perishables on hand and use them promptly.
I don't think we should be targeting food safety as the root of the problem here.
I think waste in the US is more directly related to package size and advertising, also the proliferation of big-box type stores selling mega-sized everything at very tempting prices entice consumers into buying much more product than they can easily use up within a reasonable time.
Waste is also a function of grocery stores putting on a "show". When stores mount enormous displays of perishables (breads, produce, fish, etc.) it ultimately leads to waste since not all of that food will be bought whilst in its prime and it usually costs more to pay an employee to pack, weigh and label these foods to be sold at a discount than it does to pay an employee to toss it in the bin and haul it out back.
If we taxed food retailers by the pound on all the food they throw out (because it does actually lead to higher carbon emissions in the end) you'd see how quickly they'd change their wasteful habits.
QUESTION RESPONSE; "What about throwing Rice at a wedding, having food garnishes, or making designs or art with food. Are these also sins that will damn a person to eternal hellfire?"
ANSWER- - - this is not the geniuses of the article- - it was concerned with 40% / ALMOST HALF of ''ALL THE FOOD WE RAISE'' BEING DISCARDED WHILE HUNDRY NATIONS - - starve''! Your cute LIBERAL analogy falls in the category of PITENCE! I also believe, Being really STUPID condemns a person to eternal fire- - - guess ''you '' made the CUT ! !
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