Food Waste Is Costing Americans $1,500 a Year

If Americans weren’t confused enough by the Nutrition Facts label, it appears they are equally confused by food expiration date labels. According to this recent Food Navigator article, confusion over food date labels costs the average American household nearly $1,500 every year. That’s a lot of waste over a simple miscommunication.


Members of the Consumer Goods Forum, which is made up of food manufacturers from around the world, have recognized the prevalence of this issue and want to do something about it. Their plan is simple: create a standardized labeling system. Perishable items would indicate a set “use by” expiration date, while non-perishable items that typically have a much longer shelf-life would utilize a “best before” food quality indicator system.

Simplifying food date labels is an important step forward in preventing food waste, and will help end the confusion related to ‘sell by’ dates.
— Maria Fernanda Mejia, Kellogg's Senior Vice President

Of course, even if all goes well, a change of this magnitude would take years to implement. In the meantime, a bit of basic education about the difference between “sell by,” “use by,” and “best before” could save your patients and clients some of their hard-earned cash.