Food waste has become a major issue in the past year, as awareness of the adverse environmental and social impacts of throwing so much food away just because it was aesthetically unpleasing has become more widely known. The numbers are staggering: According to the UglyFruitandVeg campaign, nearly 26 percent of all food produced in the United States is wasted. In a country where millions of households face food insecurity, this just should not be a problem.
At the front lines of the push to reduce food waste are major retailers — which often throw away completely edible foods, often not even donating it to food banks or other charities. One of the key reasons they do this is due to expiration dates that, amazingly, are almost completely up to the whim of producers and have no standards. That’s right: There are few federal, state or local regulations on food date labels, who sets them and what they actually represent.