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Mass Confusion over Food Expiration Dates

October 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A new study recently revealed that that one of the leading causes of food waste in the United States is the confusing and ineffective expiration date system.  An over abundance of waste in this country is obviously a huge issue for the environment and one that needs to be addressed in a serious manner.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic conducted an industry survey regarding food safety and expiration dates.  The study showed that over 90% of Americans might be mistakenly throwing out food because of misinterpreting food labels.  There is often confusion and mixed up ideas over dates labels such as “use by,” “sell by,” and “best before.”

Based on the NRDC’s 2012 report, it was understood that Americans throw out at least 40% of the country’s food supply which adds up to a waste of 165 billion dollars!  One of the revelations  that came from the study is that many people throw food out because of the “sell by” date when that doesn’t actually indicate that the food is unsafe to eat.  The study showed that many grocery store workers weren’t even aware of the differences in the listed dates.

A “sell by” date is not the expiration date.  They are actually tools that help regulate stock control so that grocery stores know when to take things off of the shelf.  “Sell by” stickers are not actually intended for the consumer at all.  “Use by” and “best before” are the dates that consumers should pay attention to.

Experts believe that a regulated and uniform system for these dates will help to eliminate an immense amount of food waste in the country.

Guest post is provided by Food Trade Consultants, a premier consulting business for restaurants and business-minded people looking to create success in the food industry.  Check out the foodtradeconsultants website for more information.

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