Food Label Due Dates Cost Ameircan’s On Average $300-$500 a year per household

When the date label on your food gets close to the actual calendar date, a lot of people throw the food away. If you’re one of them, food safety experts say you’re wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Household food waste due to misleading food labels accounts for 20 percent of the food waste stream, costing us $300-$500 a year per household, and nationwide, would fill the Rose Bowl stadium every day.

A lot of people assume the date stamp on food means that’s when the food expires. But it doesn’t.

It turns out those dates often don’t reflect anything about the safety of the food, and are simply manufacturer’s recommendation for when the food is at its peak freshness. None of these types of labels are federally regulated, except on infant formula, which is due to nutrient degradation, not spoilage.

Most states, including Michigan, have no legal definitions for what “best by” and similar terms mean. The only requirement issued by the Michigan Department of Agriculture is that “all packaged, perishable foods (those with a shelf life of less than 90 days) must be labeled with a recommended last day of sale consisting of the month and day.”

You’re probably wondering, what does “recommended last day of sale” really mean? It’s hard to say for sure. It could be the last day in which the company’s research shows ideal color, texture, etc. It could be based on consumer reports on taste and general “freshness.” One thing is for sure though, these dates do not ensure or indicate the safety of food, and throwing food away based on these dates is costing Americans millions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture figures consumer and retail confusion about date labels is one reason Americans waste 30 percent or more of our annual food supply. The estimates average out to nearly 1 pound of wasted food per person, per day.

When the date label on your food gets close to the actual calendar date, a lot of people throw the food away. If you’re one of them, food safety experts say you’re wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

A lot of people assume the date stamp on food means that’s when the food expires. But it doesn’t.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture figures consumer and retail confusion about date labels is one reason Americans waste 30 percent or more of our annual food supply. The estimates average out to nearly 1 pound of wasted food per person, per day.ADVERTISING

In reality, date labels on food are not an indication of food going bad.

“None of those dates indicate safety,” said Eyob Mazengia, Ph.D Food Program Manager at the King County Department of Public Health.

Dr. Mazengia tracks and investigates food safety risks, and says food that happens to be days beyond the label date is not on the hazard list. What happens after that date?

“Nothing happens after that date, except the higher likelihood that the quality might deteriorate. You can consume the product,” said Mazengia. “But the quality may not match what the manufacturers think is optimum.”

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