Food waste is estimated to account for between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply. What’s more, all this wasted food is the biggest occupant of America’s landfills. Part of the problem boils down to the various labels you see on grocery items, which include dates like “sell by,” “best by,” “best before,” and “use by.”
Up to a whopping 90 percent of Americans occasionally toss out still-fresh food because of confusion caused by these dates. Date-labeling policies also increase the burden on manufacturers and retailers with more compliance issues by making them unable to donate perfectly good food past its “best if used by” date. Interestingly enough, according to federal regulations, infant formula is the only food item that legally requires dating.
If you’re not sure whether a product is safe past its due date, the USDA’s free FoodKeeper app can help you determine how soon specific items should be consumed if stored in the pantry, and how long they’ll last in your refrigerator once opened.