The standard supermarket aisle is a complicated sea of by by bys—"sell by," "best by," "use by"—but a new bill introduced into the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday aims to untangle the convoluted expiration label web. The legislation, which will standardize food labeling on a federal level, is being introduced as a hopeful solution to America's growing food waste problem.
"Contrary to popular belief, expiration date labels often don't indicate whether food is still safe to eat. As a result, we are tossing massive amounts of perfectly good food in the trash," says Dana Gunders, author of the Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook and Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This bill will help clarify the true meaning of the dates on food labels... so we can keep more on our plates and out of the landfill."
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Studies show that up to 90 percent of Americans throw away perfectly safe food prematurely due to misinterpretations of expiration date labels. This has contributed to the massive amount of food that is wasted in the U.S. every year—$162 billion worth, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That means an average cost of $1,500 a year for every American family for wasted food.