Have you ever noticed food in your kitchen that you couldn’t remember buying? Did you buy it last week? Two weeks ago? A month ago? Did you find a date label on it? If you did and the date had passed already, then the odds are that you threw away the food because you were worried it had expired.
But, did that date mean the food had expired and was no longer safe to eat?
Around 20% of consumer food waste results from people misinterpreting what their food date labels mean or say. Which means, that food you threw away because it expired? It may have been fine to eat and had just passed its "peak freshness" date.
In a recent report highlighting the best strategies to reduce food waste and save billions of dollars in the process, fixing food date labels was the number one most cost effective strategy to prevent food waste.
Date labels come in a dizzying variety including “use by,” “best before,” “sell by,” and “enjoy by” dates, yet these dates don’t always mean that the food is unsafe to eat. Even worse, sometimes food just has a date with no words to describe what that date represents. Currently, there is no clear distinction between peak freshness dates (when food might taste best) and safety dates (when food may be unsafe to eat).
We wanted to help change that. Californians Against Waste teamed up with Assembly member Chiu and the Natural Resources Defense Council to sponsor AB 2725 that will standardize the date labels you find on food so that consumers can see a distinct difference between freshness and safety dates. We want you to be able to look at food date labels and easily and consistently understand when your food is at or past its peak freshness or when it is expired. AB 2725 will create two standardized labels for “best if used by” to communicate freshness and “expires on” to communicate safety.
This legislation won’t cost companies much if anything at all and will save consumers money wasted on replacing food they never needed to throw away in the first place.
With over 5.5 million tons of food dumped in landfills every year in the state, food is the single most prevalent item in California’s waste stream. Food thrown-out by consumers, retailers, and manufacturers poses a significant burden on the American food system. Wasted food costs consumers and industry money, squanders important natural resources, and represents a missed opportunity to feed the millions of hungry households in the United States that are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. Misinterpretation of the date labels on foods is a key factor leading to this waste.
Food waste is such a prevalent problem that even late night comic and Last Week Tonight host John Oliver devoted one of his shows to highlighting this problem.
Please send a letter urging the Assembly Health Committee to pass this legislation. It’s easy and should only take you 2 minutes. Click here