Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Representing the 1st District of Maine

Pingree applauds release of new industry standards on food date labeling

Feb 15, 2017
Press Release
Will reintroduce legislation to set a national uniform system for date labeling

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree applauded new industry standards on food date labeling released today by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute. She will soon be reintroducing legislation to set a national uniform system for date labeling. 

“Per capita, food waste in the U.S. costs a family of four $1,500 every year. Much of that food is perfectly good to eat, but gets thrown out anyway because of confusing, inconsistent, and sometimes misleading food date labels,” said Pingree.  “I appreciate the work of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute to develop a standard that distinguishes between when food is no longer safe to eat versus when it might not be at its peak flavor. This is an important step as we seek to standardize date labels. But the only way to fully resolve inconsistent state date labeling laws across the country is to set a national uniform system for date labeling, which is why I will soon be reintroducing my legislation to do so.”
 
The voluntary industry standards released today provide guidelines for two kinds of date labels. “BEST if used by” would specify the date of a food’s highest quality, after which the food is still safe to consume. “USE by” would specify foods that are no longer safe to eat after a certain date.
There are currently no federal regulations regarding date labeling on food products besides infant formula, which has allowed states to step in and create a patchwork of state date labeling requirements.
 
Last May, Pingree introduced the first legislation to standardize date labels along with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The legislation does not mandate that manufacturers put date labels on food, but provides standardized language if they decide to do so. Part of the legislation would also make sure states cannot restrict the donation of food that has passed its quality date, something that can only be accomplished through a legislative fix.
 
Pingree plans to reintroduce that legislation, the Food Date Labeling Act, in the coming weeks. She also plans to reintroduce another bill, the Food Recovery Act, which takes comprehensive steps at the federal level to address the problem of food waste.
 


Facts on food waste in America

  • It’s estimated that 90 percent of Americans prematurely throw out perfectly safe food.
  • Up to 40 percent of the food produced in the United States goes to waste.
  • Food waste adds up to 133 billion pounds annually.
  • Uneaten food at retailers, restaurants, and homes costs $161 billion every year.