What regulation does exist occurs at the state level — and all but nine states in the U. “Sometimes a product needs a date, sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes a product cannot be sold after a different date. Even with different categories there is so much variability.” The result is a confused public — and tons of wasted food.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic says Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean.
Most consumers mistakenly believe that expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume, when these dates actually aren’t related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness.
But according to the new analysis, words like “use by” and “sell by” are used so inconsistently that they contribute to widespread misinterpretation — and waste — by consumers.