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Dana Gunders, agriculture specialist at NRDC and one of the authors of , says, “Every entity around the world that has investigated food waste—the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations and NRDC in last year’s report—have all highlighted reducing confusion around expiration dates as one of the key ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities for reducing food waste.

So we set off to seize that opportunity starting with this report.”While many people place a lot of confidence in food date labels, its an ad-hoc system with no oversight and little consistency.

By Dana Frasz Words such as convoluted, confusing, inconsistent, ineffective, disorienting, ambiguous and dizzying are not terms you want to hear associated with a system you believe is designed to guarantee food safety.

A 2001 study estimated that each year, 0 million worth of inventory was removed from the supply chain due to date code expiration and identified the lack of standardization around date coding as one of the factors driving that loss.A survey of grocery store workers found that even some employees themselves do not distinguish between different kinds of dates.But labeling hasn’t even achieved that modest goal, according to the report.“Ironically, despite the original intention of increasing consumer knowledge about their food, date labeling has become a largely incoherent signaling device for consumers,” the report says.Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) has submitted the Food Freshness Disclosure Act to “help establish a consistent food dating system in the United States and protect American consumers.” Emily Broad Leib, one of the authors of , says consumers should ask their representatives to sign onto the bill and help push it through to passage.“Creating a meaningful, standardized system is a crucial way to reduce food and resource waste, save money for consumers who are watching their wallets (particularly in these economic times) and actually improve safety for consumers,” Leib says.

Visit Eco Watch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

“That is no guarantee of safety or quality,” he warns.

“The newer product could have been sitting on a loading dock for 10 hours.”According to a survey by the Food Marketing Institute, confusion about date labels leads nine out of 10 Americans to needlessly throw away food.

The new NRDC report also warns that date labels may fuel a false sense of security when it comes to food safety.

Date labels “may be encouraging consumers to ignore the more relevant risk factors affecting food safety, including the importance of time and temperature control along the distribution chain.”The confusion also costs retailers money.

Food safety officers working with anti-hunger organizations “must consequently spend considerable time and effort educating workers about the date labeling system and those workers must in turn educate clients and end-users when they express concerns or uncertainty about the products they are receiving.”Each of U. has a role to play in reducing food waste and its horrible impacts.