The Food and Drug Administration strives to eliminate food waste before it becomes edible.
On Thursday, the agency will issue a letter to the food industry in general affirming the tendency to label products almost consistently with the expiration date "Best if Used By". At the same time, the public is reminded that most foods are still safe to eat even after the given date, even if they are not necessarily that delicious anymore. The action is part of a larger effort by the FDA to drastically reduce the food waste problem in the US.
"Imagine that: You go to your favorite supermarket and come out with three bags full of food. Before getting into your car, throw one of these bags in the trash. Sounds ridiculous? Of course, but that's what food waste looks like in our country every day, "said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Reaction, in a statement released Thursday as part of the FDA Consumer Update.
] According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 30 percent of Americans' food is ultimately wasted on retail shelves or in people's homes, representing an annual loss of about $ 1
The FDA and the USDA (food regulatory agencies) do not require the use of a date sticker on most foods. Companies do this on their own. Nor do you need to use the language used in these labels for FDA approval or explain how they determine their data. This has led to a variety of dates on foods such. For example, "sell until," "expiration date," or "use until."
The problem is, people are more likely to think that they are looking at a product. The expiration date of the labels should only convey the quality and freshness of the food, but not whether it is safe to eat. Even by this standard, the date is a rough guess, so many foods stay fresh after the predicted day.
In recent years, however, the food industry has sought to eliminate this confusion. In 2017, the Food Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have formed an alliance to recommend member companies to use the "Best if Used By" label for all non-perishable foods and the "Use By" label for perishable foods. Only foods labeled "Use By" have an expiration date, as is normally understood, meaning that foods consumed after that date may be insecure.
In their letter to the industry, the FDA states that they are "strongly supported". the widespread use of the label "Best if Used By" for all suitable foods. The strong proposal from the FDA reflects that of the USDA, which mainly regulates animal products such as meat and eggs.
Terminology, "said Yiannas. "This change is already being adopted by many food manufacturers."
However, the main exception to this rule are some types of baby food. The FDA has long required that all infant formulas be labeled with a "Use By" label to ensure the quality and safety of the product. Interestingly enough, the agency is not exploring whether the industry's growing confidence in the "use by" label for perishable foods that are not infant formula is widely used, at least not currently.
Food Still Available The FDA has exceeded the date "Best if Used By" in your refrigerator or pantry and noted in your letter that "after the date of your quality, it should be safe, healthy and of good quality" – if stored properly.
Instead of a fixed rule for determining when a food has gone bad, the FDA also suggests that a shot of common sense should be sufficient help. If your cup of yogurt looks, smells or feels different than usual, it's probably time to throw it away.