Confusion Surrounding Labels on Food Products Cause Massive Food Waste, Report Finds
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic stated every year, Americans waste 160 billion pounds of food. One of the main reasons why is because consumers misread labels of food products.
The vast majority of consumers reportedly throw out food unnecessarily because they misunderstand the "sell by," "use by" and "best by" dates on product packaging. The report noted that a lack of standardization in certain aspects of food label printing has led to inconsistencies among producers, and consumers often misinterpret labels and toss food that is otherwise safe to eat.
In addition to causing damage to the environment, this trend is also leading consumers to overspend on groceries.
Report Suggests New System for Food Product Labels
To combat the negative effects of food waste, the report recommended food product labels adhere to new, uniform language standards that would clearly explain what dates mean and provide other food safety information. In addition to making "sell by" invisible to shoppers, the study suggested differentiating between quality- and safety-based dates.