Washington Rep. Newhouse among lawmakers pushing to standardize food date labels
Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse is part of a trio of U.S. lawmakers who have reintroduced a bill to standardize food expiration dates.
The lawmakers behind the bill — Reps. Newhouse (R-WA) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — say Americans are confused by food date labeling and that way too much food that is still safe to eat ends up in landfills.
They say standardizing the system will reduce food waste, help people save money, which will lead to more donations to food banks, and will help the environment.
“To allow confusing food labeling practices to contribute to unnecessary food waste is absurd — especially when there are tens of millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity,” Newhouse said in a written statement. “This is a commonsense solution to a pervasive problem, and as co-chair of the Food Recovery Caucus, I am proud to partner with Rep. Pingree and Sen. Blumenthal to reintroduce this legislation which will reform outdated labeling practices, reduce food waste, and help Americans save money.”
In the United States, 40% of all food produced is wasted, costing the country $161 billion annually, the release about the food labeling act details.
Right now, infant formula is the only food product with federal regulations related to date labels. The rest of is a patchwork of state rules with what the trio of lawmakers say are confusing terms like, “sell by,” “use by,” “freshest on,” and “expires on.”
As explained in a news release, the bipartisan Food Date Labeling Act establishes a food date labeling system that uses two terms. “Best if used by” is to communicate to consumers that the quality of the food product may begin to deteriorate after the date, and “use by” communicates the end of the estimated period of shelf life, after which the product should not be consumed.
“Under the legislation, food manufacturers will decide which food products carry a quality date or a discard date,” the release explains. “This legislation will also allow food to be sold or donated after its labeled quality date, helping more perfectly good food reach those who need it.”
The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.