A new bipartisan, bicameral bill has been reintroduced in Congress that aims to standardize and clarify food date labels to reduce food waste. 

The Food Date Labeling Act, brought forth by the Bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus Co-chair Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-ME, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, seeks to limit the number of different phrases on products and provide consumers with information that differentiates safety versus quality issues.

The proposed policy would standardize the language used on food date labels, reducing confusion and improving understanding among consumers. With the exception of baby formula, date labels on food are not federally regulated or standardized. The Food Date Labeling Act would change this and save consumers money while preventing over half a million tons of food waste from entering landfills each year, according to the sponsors.

In the United States, more than one-third of food goes to waste annually. This waste is the single largest category of material sent to municipal landfills. Date labels contribute to this problem as they can be confusing to consumers and prompt them to throw out food that is still safe to eat. A 2016 Harvard study found that more than 80 percent of consumers throw away food that is at or near the “date” label at least some of the time.

In response to the reintroduction of the bill, Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG’s Food and Agriculture Program advocate, emphasized the importance of accurate and useful information for consumers. She stated that “consumers want – and deserve – accurate and useful information about the food that they purchase.” Melgar highlighted the absurdity of throwing away perfectly good food because of an arbitrary, hard-to-understand label and praised the Food Date Labeling Act as a solution to this problem.

This bill has received support from both sides of the aisle, demonstrating a willingness to address the issue of food waste in a bipartisan manner, according to PRIG. By standardizing food date labels and improving consumer understanding, the Food Date Labeling Act offers a practical solution to reducing food waste and supporting sustainable practices.

About U.S. PIRG
The United States Public Interest Research Group, commonly abbreviated as U.S. PIRG, is the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change. Find out more about PIRG here.

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