Forty percent of the food we produce in this country—worth 5 billion annually—gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who's hungry.
One of the more surprising reasons for this, as she explains in a report released today by NRDC and Harvard Law School, is because of the inconsistent and incoherent way in which food is date labeled.
"When people start to understand that, we'll start banning carcinogens and they should be banned in every product.
There's no excuse for them." Burrows and the Labour Environmental Alliance Society have published a list they call the Cancer Smart Consumer Guide.
It might be good for a week, or it might have spoiled yesterday because someone left it sitting out on the counter. Our ineffective, misleading date labeling system is contributing to the very costly problem of wasted food in this country.
Wasting food is a systemic problem that's a serious drain on our economy and our natural resources.
We use 80 percent of our water and half our land for agriculture in this country—and yet we're throwing away nearly half of what we produce with those precious resources.
If you live in Florida, your milk has to be labeled with a "sell-by" date, which means—well, nothing, if you're a consumer.
Labels should clearly differentiate between safety-based and quality-based dates.
Manufacturers and retailers should have their own, coded system for sharing information relevant to food display and shelf life, rather than a "sell by" date that confuses consumers.
So according to the federal government, a date can be there, or not be there; and if it is there, the manufacturer can decide what it means without any further explanation for consumers.
Some state agencies do require date labels for certain products, like dairy items; others, like New York, have no requirements for food dates at all.