While more than 815 million people go hungry in the world, in Spain more than 600 million kilos of food go to landfills every year. It is the sum of what families throw away. In the United States, that translates to $1,800 a year of food thrown away per family. To reverse this situation, the North American country is working on the simplification of labeling to resolve doubts about the expiration of the food. The objective, that the ‘Sell before’, ‘Better before’, ‘Expires in’, or ‘Consume before’ that confuse more than 60% of the population, go down in history.
In the European Union, the uncertainties that arise among the consumers of the North American giant are less. For years, in the European food labeling there is only room for two of those deadlines that seem to confuse more than inform. The land here has therefore been reduced to the expiration date and the ‘Best before’ date, which does not prevent the need for some clarification.
With the date of minimum duration, what the label intends is to indicate the period in which the product will maintain 100% of its properties. Thus, after that date, it is totally safe to consume that food, so it is important to take it into account before having a very loose hand throwing food away. Faced with this information, the other date on the labels is the expiration date which, now, indicates the moment when consumption is no longer safe.
If it is not easy here, in a country like the United States things get even more complicated. So much so that, according to data provided by EcoWatch, 9 out of 10 consumers have been too quick to throw away food that was in perfect condition. The mass of dates and messages that appear, or that may appear on the labels, explains the doubts. This, when US state regulations do not even require any date, with the exception of infant formula.
Faced with the current chaos, the situation is approaching a time of change that may be of consideration. And it is that, after last year the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association published voluntary guidelines for the simplification of labeling among their members, they are encouraged.
The initiative aims to move to two of the more than ten different dates that can be found in food marketed in the United States, as in Europe. These would be ‘Best if consumed before’ and ‘Best before’. In the first case, the emphasis would be on quality, as is the case here with the minimum durability date. For its part, the second sentence would be used for a limited number of products that are truly perishable and that, indeed, have to be thrown away once their expiration date has passed.
While the associations promoting the initiative urge their partners to widely adopt the new guidelines by summer 2018, the companies have taken the first steps. “We are delighted with this collaborative initiative in favor of consistency, simplifying the lives of consumers and reducing the generation of waste . ” The appreciation comes from neither more nor less than one of the top managers of Walmart, a heavyweight in the market that could pull many other surfaces. If this is achieved, not only would it stop the chain of questions in front of any container or can, but it would reduce the total waste of food in the United States by 8%.