We’ve all been there: staring at the inside of our fridge trying to figure out what to whip up when we’re cooking a healthy recipe for one (or more!), when we finally decide on something to eat. But then, swerve. You realize one or more key ingredients are past their expiration date. But how can you really tell if that three-day-past greek yogurt is actually unsafe to eat? You can’t, and it turns out you’re not alone, which is why a new bill in Congress is looking to standardize the food labeling system across the US.
According to the legislation, tricky wording, including “sell by,” “use by” and “expires on” can lead 90 percent of Americans to prematurely toss away safe-to-eat food. Meaning that every year, 40 percent of our food source, or $218 billion in food, is turned into waste. What?! That’s a CRAZY amount of good food heading to the landfill every year. There aren’t only tons of environmental benefits to cutting down on food waste, but moral reasons too. It’s estimated that food wasted by the US and Europe could feed all the hungry people in the world (about one billion) three times over.
The bill, introduced by US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) to the US Senate and House, would establish a uniform national date-labeling system. According to Congresswoman Pingree, “One of the most common arguments people seem to have at home is about whether or not food should be thrown out just because the date on the label has passed. It’s time to settle that argument, end the confusion and stop throwing away perfectly good food.” Amen.
The new labeling system would seek to distinguish foods with a label indicating peak quality versus foods with a label that may become unsafe to consume past the date. In addition, the bill would allow food to be sold or donated after its quality date, and help educate consumers on the new labels.
Senator Blumenthal added, “By establishing a uniform national date labeling system, this common-sense legislation will provide consumers with clarity that will help them save money on their grocery bills and prevent perfectly safe food from going to waste.” More money, less waste? Sign us up.
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