Congress Wants to Standardize Expiration Dates to Reduce Food Waste

Congress is in talks to make expiration dates less confusing, and create federalized labels to diminish food waste
We need to fix our food waste addiction, before it’s our planet — not just the milk — that expires.


We need to fix our food waste addiction, before it’s our planet — not just the milk — that expires.

You ever pick up a quart of milk or a package of meat and think, “When am I supposed to eat this?” Between best by/sell by/ and “made on” dates, figuring out whether to eat it or toss it has never been more confusing.

That’s why Congress wants to standardize expiration dates in an effort to minimize confusion and curtail food waste.

Right now, there are 41 states with varying laws on expiration date labels, so federalization will be a giant leap for grocery store standards. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine plan to introduce the bill to the House and Senate.

Forty percent of food produced in America goes uneaten, and a recent Harvard study found that 91 percent of Americans throw away food based on the expiration date, even if it’s not necessarily accurate.

“Contrary to popular belief, expiration date labels often don’t indicate whether food is still safe to eat. As a result, we are tossing massive amounts of perfectly good food in the trash—along with all of the water, climate pollution, and money it took to get it to our fridge,” Dana Gunders, Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. “This bill will help clarify the true meaning of the dates on food labels, giving consumers a better sense of food’s freshness, so we can keep more on our plates and out of the landfill.”

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