AirTalk for September 18, 2013

Fix food 'sell-by' dates to stop consumer waste

Hand out/Clean Bin Project

Food policy scientists from Harvard and the Natural Resources Defense Council found a mish-mash of rules governing use-by, best-buy and sell-by dates on perishable foods.

 Before you throw out that delicious pepper jack cheese, know that a new report on food safety and waste is calling for confusing "sell-by" dates to be tossed out instead. Food policy scientists from Harvard and the Natural Resources Defense Council found a mish-mash of rules governing use-by, best-buy and sell-by dates on perishable foods.

A whopping 91 percent of consumers said they occasionally discard food past its sell-by date and 25 percent said they always discard such food, according to a 2011 survey by the Food Marketers Institute.

That helps explain why 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste. Clearer language is suggested, such as "safe if used by" or "peak quality guaranteed before." A number of federal bills have been proposed to address the problem, but none of have passed.

What's holding them back? Common foods tossed too soon include yogurt, fruit juices, cheese, and dried snacks. How do you judge whether your fridge and pantry is stocked with safe foods, rather than your garbage can? What labels would offer more clarity for you?

Click here for USDA Food Safety Tips regarding expiration dates

Guests:

Emily Broad Leib, lead author, director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic

Dana Gunders, co-author, food & agriculture staff scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council

David Fikes, Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Food Marketing Institute (FMI)


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