Reducing food waste through voluntary date labeling
When it comes to food waste, we’ve all seen the statistics—40% of the food produced in the United States each year is never eaten, amounting to about $162 billion lost every year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York. There are numerous food waste reduction strategies at the farm, manufacturing and consumer level that will all collectively contribute to helping decrease these figures.
When you begin to dig deeper into these statistics, you find that consumer confusion over the meaning of labels may account for as much as 20% of consumer waste of safe, edible food.
That’s why the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), McLean, Va., is joining the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Arlington, Va., and Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA), Washington, D.C., voluntary product code dating initiative. AFFI’s support of the “Best If Used By” language to indicate best product quality for frozen foods will help facilitate consumer understanding of date labeling and lessen food waste.
To assist companies with implementation, the organizations released:
- A white paper entitled Product Code Date Labeling: Crucial Initiative to Reduce Consumer Confusion. This document offers general background, context and resources of the date label project.
- An implementation guide for manufacturers and retailers. This document offers those activating the program with style guidance and best practices for standardizing date label language.
We already know that frozen food generates almost 50% less waste than other foods, yet there is more that our industry can do. Frozen food makers have another opportunity to further reduce food waste by making food date labels more consistent and less confusing, so less food is needlessly thrown away.