Food waste is a major concerning issue that is effecting every single resident of the world. This is a problem that could easily be solved by people just being less wasteful, but a change like that is unlikely to happen any time soon. However, a more likely solution is shedding light on a system that leads to food waste on a daily basis; expiration dates.
91% of all consumers have thrown away food based on the dates on the packaging. It is estimated that over 30% of all food thrown away because it is passed its date is still good. This means billions of pounds of food is wasted every year just because the expiration date is improperly representing the food.
The current system for dating food is very convoluted and obviously misleading consumers. Many groups have recently taken a vested interest in figuring out this problem. The Natural Resource Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic have conducted a study to uncover the true flaws of the current food dating system.
The primary problem lies with the lack of federal regulations and standards. Congress has never authorized a set system or national standard for food dating. The Food and Drug Administration and The U.S. Department of Agriculture have the power to regulate expiration dates, but rarely exercise their control. Without the federal mandates, States have been using their own discretion in regulating expiration dates, but this is resulting in more issues.
Over 20 U.S. states have implemented their own set of standards, which leaves 30 states almost completed unregulated. Food products seamlessly cross state lines, so there needs to be a system that is consistent across the board. It may take some upfront costs, but a solution could save $165 billion dollars annually.
Until the Federal Government steps up and controls the entire food dating system, the waste will continue. However, if the average consumer can better understand the current “system” less good food will go to waste. Allow Budget Dumpster to help you get the most out of what you bring home from the grocery store!
For the most part, the more perishable the food is, the more likely that it will have a date on it. But what do those dates really mean?
Expiration Date: This is the ONLY food label directly linked to the safety of the food. So if your food reaches this date, then this food should be put in your garbage.
Use By Date: This dating is conducted by the manufacture of the product to give consumers an estimation of the peak quality. After this date, the product begins to diminish.
Best If Used By: Also put on by the manufacture. This date indicates the freshest, best taste, and texture if consumed by this date but does not refer to food safety.
Sell By: This food dating cites how long the product should be on display in the store. However it is likely the food is safe to eat after this date.
Obviously this can be very confusing! So let’s examine the true amount of time particular foods can last in your refrigerator or your cupboards. Hopefully this will help you waste less!
Canned Products: These should last longer than humans! However many do not realize exposing the canned food to freezing or temperatures above 90 degrees can spoil the contents.
Butter: Only 2-3 weeks but Margarine can last up to 6 months after purchasing.
Eggs: 3-5 weeks but the colder they are kept, the fresher they will be!
Lunch Meat: If unopened over 2 weeks but only 3-4 days after opening.
Fish: 2-3 days at most in a refrigerator!
Other Meats: 2-3 days.
Uncooked Pasta: Well over 1 year if kept in a dry place.
Milk: 2 days after Use By date, if kept colder it could last longer.
Fruit: 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Until this problem is solved by the Federal Government, consumers need to rely on their instincts. Not everything needs to be thrown away, but if you have other things that are needing disposal, contact the waste removal professionals at Budget Dumpster!