The $29 billion-a-year food waste problem has a surprising new enemy: Walmart. The mega-chain announced this week that it will standardize its expiration date labels. The hope is to clear up confusion that results in perfectly good food being tossed.
Walmart's private food label, Great Value, will now carry a standard date label, utilizing "Best if used by" for all non-perishable items, according to The Guardian. The company has given its suppliers until the end of next month to make the label switch, but according to Frank Yiannas, the vice president of food safety for Walmart, 70 percent of suppliers have already complied with the new policy.
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According to Yiannas, the chain's attention was first drawn to the label issue following the release of a 2013 report by The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Coucil titled "The Dating Came: How Confused Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America." Yiannis and his team worked with the Institute of Food Technologists, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the Food Marketing Institute to craft a report on the waste repercussions of confusing label terminology. Walmart also surveyed its own suppliers and found that its products used 47 different varieties of date labels.