That box of crackers in the pantry and carton of yogurt in the fridge both have plenty of time to be consumed; but the level of texture of taste may not be what it was when it was first placed store shelves, hence the erroneous dates.
Food companies often err on the side of caution when it comes to quality dating, because no manufacturer wants to risk losing a customer by having them indulge in one of their products after it had long sat on a shelf – only to find that the taste and texture were just not quite there. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency announced the country’s first nationwide food waste reduction goal.
“A year ago, I would have said that we are banging our heads against the wall,” said Emily Broad Leib, assistant clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School and deputy director of the school’s Center of Health Law and Policy Innovation.
Leib was the lead author of a 2013 study, for which Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic partnered with the NRDC in order to make the case that the patchwork of date labeling standards across the U. is a huge contributor to the country’s food waste problem.
Many consumers, however, assume those dates mean that food has gone bad.
Date stamps with terms like ‘best by,’ ‘use by,’ ‘best before,’ ‘sell by’ and even the absurd ‘for wholesome great taste, serve before date stamped below’ are driven more by marketing than food science.
And while she told Triple Pundit that much work lies ahead, both governments and companies have made huge strides in how they label food so less of it ends up in the dumpster. The joint Harvard-NRDC report caught the company’s attention shortly after its release.
Executives reviewed the company’s private-label products and found at least 47 different labeling terms used to describe the date at which they reached their peak quality or present health risks.Meanwhile, more nonprofits and industry trade groups are joining the quest to streamline food date labeling so customers have more clarity.The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Institute of Food Technologists were among the organizations that worked with Walmart to implement its new food-labeling policy.For now, however, the bill has languished in Congress as events such as this year’s presidential election posed a distraction.Nevertheless, the fact that legislation has been introduced on the House floor is an enormous step forward.A rethink is needed on food date labels, because when Americans toss food due to the misunderstanding of a food label, they are not only filling up local landfills, but they are also throwing money away while some of their neighbors go hungry.