New Food Date Labeling Act Aims to Cut Down Food Waste
by M.C. Millman
The Food Date Labeling Act, a bipartisan effort aimed at ending consumer confusion around food date labeling, has been reintroduced in Congress to reduce food waste by keeping food on shelves longer.
"Our current food labeling practices are outdated, confusing, and completely arbitrary, resulting in around 90 percent of Americans prematurely throwing out perfectly safe food. This staggering waste takes a toll on families' wallets, on the environment, and on the economy," says U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), co-chair of the Bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus. "By standardizing the food date labeling system and making labels less confusing for consumers, the bipartisan Food Date Labeling Act will help ensure food is being used and eaten, rather than being thrown out."
The proposed policy would limit the number of different phrases on products and provide information that differentiates safety versus quality issues on the packaging. It would also require that standardized language be used on food date labels to reduce consumer confusion.
Currently, baby formula's date labels are the only food federally regulated. The Food Date Labeling Act would expand that, with the goal being to prevent the major waste of food going on across the U.S., where $218B in food is thrown out each year. This comes out to half a million tons of food wasted, more than a third of all food purchased.
"This legislation would provide consumers and grocers with a clear, consistent food labeling system," says U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn. "Current labels lack clarity about when products are safe to eat—discouraging donations and contributing to food waste and insecurity. The Food Date Labeling Act is an important step toward streamlining our labeling process and reducing the 40 percent of our nation's food supply that is thrown away every year."