U.S. Government Accountability Office GAO recommends the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Serice (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work with stakeholders outside the federal government to reduce consumer confusion about date labels that contribute to food wast.
Almost one-third of the U.S. food supply is lost or wasted at the retail and consumer levels, according to USDA. A new GAO report says date labeling confusion contributes to food waste.
When consumers cannot be sure about when food has expired, they often follow the adage” “When in doubt, throw it out.” GAO says both the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are researching the issue.
“USDA and FDA have coordinated on some initiatives focused on date labels on packaged foods, ” GAO reports. “For example, agency officials said they were working together to develop information for food banks, food donors, and recipients of donated food on how to interpret date labels, so food past the date on the label–but otherwise wholesome–is not wasted.
USDA and FDA have both produced consumer education materials to help cut the confusion caused by date labels, including their work with state, local, and tribal jurisdictions. USDA and FDA “could better assure that approaches they take to address consumer understanding of date labels are effective in helping reduce consumer confusion, GAO said.