NRDC calls for overhaul of US food labelling

30th September 2013 - Fine Cut

Large amounts of food go to waste as a result of poor labelling, according to a new report.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says 40 per cent of food in the US is never actually eaten - resulting in around $165 billion (£102 billion) of mainly edible food being wasted every year.

Its Dating Game report is now calling for a number of changes to be made to food labelling practices, to avoid costly consumer confusion resulting in further wastage.

One such problem is the use of production, pack, sell by and use by dates - which do not consistently have the same meaning depending on the manufacturer and retailer. This in turn can result in the people who buy the food either throwing it out while it is still acceptable to eat, or instead mistakenly leaving food uneaten for too long - resulting in its expiration.

The NRDC wants to see sell by dates made invisible to the customer as it says they offer "no useful guidance". In addition to that, the organisation says products should only show dates that are useful to the consumer.

However, freezing information or freeze by dates are something it would like to see more of, when applicable. Ideally, the NRDC wants to introduce this information in order to raise awareness of the benefits of freezing food and just how much food can have its shelf life extended if it is stored in the freezer.

Other measures the NRDC believes are necessary include ensuring that date labels are clearly and logically located on packages so the information is easy for the consumer to locate, while it would also like to see quality-based dates removed from non-perishable foods.

The organisation is now calling on both the food industry and the US government to take action, while it is also directing consumers to also get involved by educating themselves on the storage and handling of food.

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