“Best before” labels add to food waste, according to several European Union states that are asking the European Commission to exempt products — such as some long-life produce — from the mandatory labels.
According to a discussion paper, put forward by the Netherlands and Sweden and backed by Austria, Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg, many food products with “best before” labels are still edible after the date. But consumers throw the products away after the date because of safety concerns, EurActiv reports.
The European Union discards some 89 million metric tons of edible food every year, the news site says.
In the US, after paper, food waste comprises the greatest volume of waste going into landfills, according to the EPA. In 2012, 36 million tons of food waste were generated, but only 3 percent of this waste stream was diverted from landfills.
Food producers and retailers should make “sell by” dates on labels invisible to consumers and take other steps to prevent US consumers and businesses from needlessly trashing billions of pounds of food every year, according to 2013 report co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.