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Poor Labeling Leads To Food Waste

The USDA estimates that approximately 17.4 million American households were food insecure at some point in 2014 – meaning there were times when they did not know if they would have the money or resources to acquire food for everyone living in their home. And yet, despite this, food waste is still prevalent in the U.S.

According to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, Americans waste about 70 billion pounds of food each year. In fact, food waste is the largest category of refuse that ends up in landfills, reports the EPA.

Americans waste about 70 billion pounds of food each year.

It’s not that Americans are deliberately throwing away food they know is perfectly good to eat. Many are simply misled by labeling on the packaging.

For instance, food containers are typically marked with “best by” and “sell by” dates. However, you may not know the specific differences between these two terms.

An article on the Huffington Post explains that “sell by” refers to the amount of time that retailers should keep food on the shelves, while “best by” tells the consumer how long they can store their product before its taste and nutritional content degrades. The consequence of many people using these terms interchangeably is that they end up disposing of fresh food without realizing it.

To help consumers reduce food waste, manufacturers need to develop clearer ways of communicating freshness and longevity. New labels are needed to keep the public informed about how long they can store their food.

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