Pingree introducing landmark legislation aimed at reducing food waste in grocery stores, restaurants, schools and farms
Food Recovery Act would help clarify misleading "sell-by" dates on many products
"Forty percent of all food produced in the United States each year is wasted," Pingree said. "The Food Recovery Act takes a comprehensive approach to reducing the amount of food that ends up in landfills and at the same time reducing the number of Americans who have a hard time putting food on the table."
Pingree was joined by dozens of people representing groups and organizations from throughout Maine as she announced the bill today. Representatives from Hannaford Supermarkets, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Portland Food Co-Op and Agri-Cycle Energy all spoke at the press conference.
Pingree's bill tackles wasted food in four areas--at the consumer level, in grocery stores and restaurants, in schools and other institutions, and on the farm.
At the consumer level, Pingree's bill requires any manufacturer who wants to put a date on their food to use the words "Best if used by" and also—in letters just as big—the words "Manufacturer's suggestion only."
"Currently there are NO federal laws regarding expiration dates," Pingree said. "Manufacturers can go overboard with the dates they put on food—and it can lead to consumers and retailers throwing out perfectly good food."
"Wasted food costs us over $160 billion a year in this country," Pingree said. "That works out to about $125 a month for a family of four. We can save money and feed more Americans if we reduce the amount of food that ends up getting sent to landfills."
Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action and owner/chef of Crafted Hospitality, praised Pingree's bill.
"Wasting food is bad for the economy, bad for the environment and bad for Americans who are struggling to afford healthy food to feed their families. Congresswoman Pingree is a national leader on sustainable food and farming and I’m glad she’s taking on this huge issue of wasted food," Collichio said.
Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland and WastedFood.com, called Pingree's bill a roadmap to reducing wasted food.
"Today is a great day for Americans who love food and hate waste," Bloom said. "In fifteen years, we may well look back on this bill as a watershed moment in the fight against food waste. "
Emily Broad Leib, Director of Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, said Pingree's bill tackles an important problem with the nation's food supply.
“Food waste is one of the most pressing environmental and economic issues facing our food system, yet so much of the food we waste could go to better use in our households or shared with people in need. This groundbreaking legislation offers assistance to farmers and retailers, supports food recovery organizations, and helps consumers by clarifying the senseless date labels that appear on foods. It thus achieves many of the goals our clinic has advocated over the past few years and we are thrilled to work in support of its passage," Broad Leib said.
Speakers at the press event this morning included: