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The report is a follow-up to NRDC's 2012 Wasted ( report, which revealed that Americans trash up to 40 percent of our food supply every year, equivalent to 5 billion.The report finds that the confusion created by this range of poorly regulated and inconsistent labels leads to results that undermine the intent of the labeling, including: * False Notions that Food is Unsafe - 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the "sell by" date out of a mistaken concern for food safety even though none of the date labels actually indicate food is unsafe to eat; * Consumer Confusion Costs - an estimated 20 percent of food wasted in U. households is due to misinterpretation of date labels. S., the average household of four is losing 5-455 per year on food needlessly trashed; * Business Confusion Costs - an estimated 0 million worth of expired food is removed from the supply chain every year.The Harvard Law/NRDC study, “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America” (PDF) is a first-of-its-kind legal analysis of federal and state laws related to date labels across all 50 states and presents recommendations for a new system for food date labeling.For the vast majority of food products, manufacturers are free to determine date shelf life according to their own methods.While not all of this is due to confusion, a casual survey of grocery store workers found that even employees themselves do not distinguish between different kinds of dates; * Mass Amounts of Wasted Food - The labeling system is one factor leading to an estimated 160 billion pounds of food trashed in the U. every year, making food waste the single largest contributor of solid waste in the nation's landfills.Two main categories of labeling exist for manufacturers: those intended to communicate among businesses and those for consumers.Jacobson, who coined the term “junk food,” described the battle over labeling on Friday during the first of the two-day “Forum on Food Labeling: Putting the Label on the Table,” presented by the Harvard Food Law Society.Source: Natural Resources Defense Council news release U. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America's dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified, according to a new report co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic.
“They are just a manufacturer suggestion of peak quality.” Americans throw out billions of pounds of food every year because they falsely believe “sell-by” and “best-before” dates on package labels indicate food safety, researchers have found.
A study published Wednesday by Harvard Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that dates printed on packaged foods, which help retailers cycle through stocked products and allow manufacturers to indicate when a product is at its peak freshness, are inconsistent.
They confuse consumers, leading many to throw out food before it actually goes bad.
The report finds that the confusion created by this range of poorly regulated and inconsistent labels leads to results that undermine the intent of the labeling, including: “We need a standardized, commonsense date labeling system that actually provides useful information to consumers, rather than the unreliable, inconsistent and piecemeal system we have today,” said Emily Broad Leib, lead author of the report and director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.
“This comprehensive review provides a blueprint calling on the most influential date label enforcers – food industry actors and policymakers – to create and foster a better system that serves our health, pocketbooks and the environment.” The report recommends that food producers and retailers begin to adopt the following changes to date labels voluntarily but government steps, including legislation by Congress and more oversight by FDA and USDA, should be considered as well: The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, a division of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, is an experiential teaching program of Harvard Law School that links law students with opportunities to serve clients and communities grappling with various food law and policy issues.
"This comprehensive review provides a blueprint calling on the most influential date label enforcers - food industry actors and policymakers - to create and foster a better system that serves our health, pocketbooks and the environment." Use of expiration dates for food stem from consumer unease about food freshness mounting over the 20th century, as Americans left farms and lost their connection to the foods they consume.