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The report finds that the confusion created by this range of poorly regulated and inconsistent labels leads to results that undermine the intent of the labeling, including: Two main categories of labeling exist for manufacturers: those intended to communicate among businesses and those for consumers.But they are not easily distinguishable from one another and neither is designed to indicate food’s safety.

During that time, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report to Congress advocating a uniform national date labeling system to avoid confusion. FDA does not require food companies to place any date labels on food products, leaving the information entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.

Despite GAO’s prophetic advice, none of the legislative efforts gained enough momentum to become law. The only product for which a date is federally regulated is infant formula.

“Sell by” dates are a tool for stock control, suggesting when the grocery store should no longer sell products in order to ensure the products still have shelf life after consumers purchase them.

They are not meant to communicate with consumers, nor do they indicate the food is bad on that date.

Instead, the 1970s began the piecemeal creation of today’s fractured American date labeling regime. Food producers and retailers can begin to adopt the following recommended changes to date labels voluntarily but government steps, including legislation by Congress and more oversight by FDA and USDA, should be considered as well: “The scale of food waste worldwide is one of the most emblematic examples of how humanity is needlessly running down its natural resources.

This new report comes on the heels of one compiled by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which points out that 28 percent of the world's farmland is being used to produce food that is not eaten-an area larger than China,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director.No matter how many times we’re reminded that 40 percent of the food we produce in the U. goes to waste, it still manages to be a pretty shocking number.So when someone suggests a realistic solution to the problem, it’s definitely worth listening."Use by" would be used to communicate that a product is highly perishable and/or has food safety concerns over time.Related: National campaign targets largest source of food waste—consumers The guidance closely follows the recommendations from NRDC and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s landmark 2013 report, , which brought the issue into the spotlight."This is a critical step toward clearing up the confusion and stopping all of that food, money, water and energy from going to waste." Forty percent of food in America goes uneaten, and consumers are responsible for more of that waste than grocery stores, restaurants or any other part of the supply chain.

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