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Trending: Food Industry Aims to Cut Waste with Two New Food Labeling Schemes

February 9, 2017

Trending: Food Industry Aims to Cut Waste with Two New Food Labeling Schemes

February 9, 2017
by Sustainable Brands

Food waste and plastic packaging pose significant sustainability challenges for the food industry, but two new labeling initiatives in the US and abroad endeavor to change that.

“Best by” and “sell by” labels intended to inform consumers about food quality and safety have never been touted for their clarity. The terminology often confuses consumers, leading them to throw out food items prematurely.

In an effort to reduce food waste, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) will be introducing a new regulation this year requiring brands to use the term “Best if Used By.”

A 2013 study co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic found that approximately $165 billion worth of food is wasted each year, simply because consumers do not fully understand the meaning of the dates that are printed on food packaging.

“We’ve all been there. We’ve taken milk out of the refrigerator, ready to pour it onto our bowl of cereal, when we notice yesterday’s date appears on the milk jug. The milk gets poured down the drain, and there goes our breakfast,” said Jill Carte, category manager of Food Safety at DayMark Safety Systems, a manufacturer of grab-and-go food labelling systems and other labelling systems for the food service industry.

“Much of the problem stems from the old ‘best by’ and ‘sell by’ date-marking system. The study reports that 90 percent of consumers assume that a date printed on a food package represents the date that the item expires — which is not always the situation,” she added.

According to Carte, the ‘best by’ and ‘sell by’ date often represents the food item’s peak freshness — not its edibility.

The change in terminology is not only expected to help reduce food waste, but it could help consumers save big at the supermarket. Carte estimates that families could save approximately $1,000 annually, allowing food to be consumed, marketed or donated past the freshness date, which will also provide a boost for the food industry as a whole.

Read more at Sustainable Brands.

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