(The study was conducted by Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, along with the National Consumer League.) Yet, despite that mess, 91 percent of Americans say they pay attention to date labels in making decisions on whether to eat something, according to a 2015 study out of Johns Hopkins.
And a a recent Food and Health Survey found that “expiration date” is the most important factor on a food package for seven out of ten Americans when considering purchasing or eating an item.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), reducing food losses by only 15 percent would be enough to feed the 25 million Americans who lack secure access to food.
Phrases like “best by,” “use before,” and “freshest before” are just plain confusing.
And that’s before you consider “expires on,” “sell by,” and the dreaded date without a label.
Dana Gunders, agriculture specialist at NRDC and one of the authors of , says, “Every entity around the world that has investigated food waste—the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations and NRDC in last year’s report—have all highlighted reducing confusion around expiration dates as one of the key ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities for reducing food waste.
So we set off to seize that opportunity starting with this report.”While many people place a lot of confidence in food date labels, its an ad-hoc system with no oversight and little consistency.
That incoherence is costly for shoppers and retailers, bad for the planet and could even be leading to increased health risk.