While more than 815 million people suffer from hunger in the world, in Spain more than 600 million kilograms of food are landfilled each year. It is the sum of what families throw away. In the United States, this translates to $ 1,800 per year of food thrown away per family. To reverse this situation, the North American country is working to simplify labeling to remove doubts about the expiration of the food. The objective, that “Sell by”, “Best by”, “Expires by” or “Consume by” which confuses more than 60% of the population, enters history.
In the European Union, the uncertainties that arise among consumers of the North American giant are less. For years, in European food labeling, there is only room for two of these deadlines which seem to confuse more than inform. The field here has therefore been reduced to the expiration date and the “Best Before” date, which does not prevent a clarification from being necessary.
With the minimum term date what the label intends to indicate is the term in which the product will retain 100% of its properties. So after this date it is quite safe to consume this food, so it is important to take it into account before you have a very loose hand in throwing the food. Faced with this information, the other date on the labels is the expiration date which now indicates when consumption is no longer safe.
If it’s not easy here, in a country like the United States, things are getting even more complicated. So much so that, according to the data provided by EcoWatch9 out of 10 consumers throw away food in perfect condition too quickly. The mass of dates and messages that appear, or that may appear on the labels, explains the doubts. This, when US state regulations don’t even require a date, with the exception of infant formula.
Faced with the current chaos, the situation is approaching a moment of change that can be considered. And it is that, after last year, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association published voluntary guidelines for the simplification of labeling among its members, they are encouraged.
The initiative claims that from over ten different dates found on foods marketed in the United States go in pairs, as in Europe. These would be “Best if eaten before” and “Best before”. In the first case, the emphasis would be on quality, as is the case here with the minimum durability date. For its part, the second sentence would be used for a limited number of products which are genuinely perishable and which, in fact, must be discarded once their expiration date has passed.
While associations promoting the initiative urge their associates to Widespread adoption of new guidelines by summer 2018, companies have taken the first steps. “We welcome this collaborative initiative in favor of consistency, simplifying consumers’ lives and reducing waste production”. The appreciation comes neither more nor less from one of the main managers of Walmart, a heavyweight in the market that could attract many other surfaces. If this is done, not only would it stop the chain of questions facing any container or can, it would reduce total food waste in the United States by 8%.