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May 19, 2016

Blumenthal seeks standard food expiration labels

New regulations are being proposed to standardize food date labeling on the federal level. Proponents say it will cut down on food waste.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced bicameral legislation to standardize food date labeling. They said in a statement the current array of date labels on food products—such as “sell by,” “use by,” and “expires on”— confuses consumers and contributes to 90 percent of Americans prematurely tossing perfectly safe food. They want to establish a uniform national date labeling system in order to reduce confusion, simplify regulatory compliance for companies, and reduce the waste of food and money.

Items at the grocery store are stamped with a jumble of arbitrary food date labels that that are not based on safety or science, said Blumenthal in a statement. He said it results in food waste, and prevents good food from being donated to those who need it. The senator said the bill will provide consumers with clarity that will help them save money on their grocery bills and prevent perfectly safe food from going to waste.

This bill is based on recommendations from comprehensive reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, and the Food Date Labeling Working Group. The bill requires the use of food date label terminology (i.e. “best if used by”) that has gone through consumer perception surveys and has been identified as language that is the most clear and accurate to consumers.

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