Clarifying Food Dates for Consumers

Thanks to Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Pingree (D-ME), we now have identical bills in the Senate and House that attempt to clarify ambiguous, yet every day, terms like "best if used by," "use by," "sell by," "expires on," and so forth...

The Food Date Labeling Act helps to "establish a uniform national date labeling system in order to reduce confusion, simplify regulatory compliance for companies, and reduce the waste of food and money."  By doing this, the goal is to both reduce consumer confusion and simultaneously reduce food waste.  As it stands now, most consumers see a term like "best if used by" and once it's passed, toss the food in the trash.  But in reality, this tends to be a quality measure, something that dates food for its quality and taste rather than overall safety.  

With many of these terms determined state-by-state, this legislation is a welcome addition to the labeling changes happening across products today.  If this bill passes, foods would have only a "best if used by" (the quality measure) and a "expires on" which will signify the date past which the food should no longer be eaten.

These changes have ramifications not just for consumer confusion and food waste, but also for foods that can get donated to food banks as well as food pricing in the retail setting.  With growing support from Nestle, Campbell's and nonprofits like the National Resources Defense Council leading the charge, this seems to be something unlikely bedfellows can rally behind.  Unlike most legislation proposed in Congress today, appears as though there's a real chance of this one making it out of committee and onto the floor for a final vote.