Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

People misread 'use by' label; 40% of U.S. food is tossed

Confused by the "sell by," "use by" and "best before" labels on the foods sold at grocery stores? So are more than 90 percent of Americans, who prematurely discard edibles because they have misinterpreted the dates stamped on the products, according to a report released Wednesday.

Many consumers read an item's sell-by date as an indicator of when the food will spoil. But it's an inaccurate assumption, according to a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic.

Manufacturers use sell-by dates to help retailers manage their inventory. It encourages stores to sell a product within a specific time frame so that the item still has a shelf life once it's purchased.

Not even the common "best before" and "use by" labels indicate a deadline after which products go bad, according to researchers. Instead, they are producer estimates of how long the food will be at peak quality.

"Expiration dates are in need of some serious myth-busting because they're leading us to waste money and throw out perfectly good food, along with all of the resources that went into growing it," said Dana Gunders, an NRDC staff scientist. "Phrases like 'sell by,' 'use by,' and 'best before' are poorly regulated, misinterpreted and leading to a false confidence in food safety."

The misunderstanding comes at a price. Last year, the NRDC found Americans throw out as much as 40 percent of the country's food supply each year, adding up to $165 billion in losses.

Misinterpreted date labels cause the average American household of four to lose as much as $455 a year on squandered food, according to researchers.

People misread 'use by' label; 40% of U.S. food is tossed 09/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]