Do expiration (or "sell by") dates on packaged/bottled foods protect consumers' health and safety, or do they just encourage consumers to throw out perfectly good food (and then buy more)? Or is the answer somewhere in between?
In September 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic published The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America, a comprehensive report that criticized the current dating system and proposed a series of policy recommendations. The report found that "the waste of edible food by consumers, retailers, and manufacturers poses a significant burden to the American food system. Wasted food costs consumers and industry money; squanders important natural resources that are used to grow, process, distribute, and store America’s food supply; and represents a missed opportunity to feed the millions of food insecure households in the United States that are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. Misinterpretation of the date labels on foods is a key factor leading to this waste."
Now, Emily Broad Leib has penned this LA Times op-ed entitled Is that milk past its 'sell by' date? Drink it anyway. She, too, argues that our current expiration-date food labeling system causes us to waste huge amounts of good food.
Watch this interesting video to learn more about the issue.
On whether stores that sell expired merchandise are deceiving their customers, go here.