Every year, the US alone wastes 160 billion pounds of food. Even more shocking, that comes out to 40% of the food produced ending up in the garbage. While this waste happens throughout the supply chain, from production to the household, the largest share of waste is directly related to confusing date code labeling.
The truth is that most product dating methods don’t actually refer to a time when product’s are no longer safe to consume, but rather to when they pass peak quality. Confusion and concern around the safety of items after passing these dates leads to the unnecessary disposal of food both at the grocery store and at home. For for information on the different types of date labeling, check out our previous post here.
In an effort to prevent this waste, on Wednesday, May 18th, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), introduced companion bills focused on creating standardized federal regulations for dates on food labeling. The bills seek to clarify date labeling so that it is easier to determine the freshness and safety of food.
If successful, this bill would make a significant impact on food and monetary waste throughout the country. As an example, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that the average household of 4 currently throws away roughly $1,500 of food per year.
It is important to note that the confusion around these dates leads to waste at the grocery store, just like it does at home. In order to satisfy consumers need for fresh, quality, and safe food, supermarkets are forced to discard product that has past these quality date labels. While most of the dry goods and some of the refrigerated product can then be donated to food pantries, some inevitably ends up in the dumpster.
Equally important is the opportunity to save water and fuel wasted in the production of food that is thrown away. Here’s a look at the water wasted from throwing away a pound of various foods in “shower minutes”:
- Tomatoes = 5 mins
- Bananas = 42 mins
- Cheese = 122 mins
- Beef = 370 mins
For more information on the food and water waste, and how you can make an impact at home, check out SaveTheFood.com.