Assembly Bill 660, by Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would require retailers to use labels that more clearly explain when food is actually expired. Such labels would have to read “best if used by,” “best if used or frozen by,” “use by” or “use by or freeze by.” “We have all opened our fridge or pantry and had to wonder whether our food is still good. AB 660 will eliminate confusion on food labeling and reduce food waste, saving consumers money and meaningfully impacting climate change,” Irwin said in a statement on the bill, which currently sits in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The measure aims to cut down not just on confusion, but the rampant food waste resulting from it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that up to a fifth of all food waste is the result of misunderstanding labels. “Some 50 different phrases can be found on food products nationwide — simplifying these would allow households to get the most out of their food, saving both money and natural resources,” Irwin’s office said. In addition to cutting waste, the bill would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, proponents say. “
About 6 million tons of food are wasted in California each year, much of which rots in landfills and creates harmful methane emissions,” said Gracyna Mohabir of Californians Against Waste, one of the bill’s sponsors. “The standards set in this bill take a step towards meeting California’s climate goals by tackling the impacts food waste has on climate change.” The bill has no recorded opposition; it passed out of the Assembly Health Committee, 11-3, and the Assembly Agriculture Committee 7-0.