Expiration dates cause food waste November 10, 2015 — by Jason Zhao Food waste has become such a problem in the United States to the point that a man could seemingly survive by eating out of the landfill. Food waste has become such a problem in the United States to the point that a man could seemingly survive by eating out of the landfill. This waste is caused by misconceptions about the labels on food products. The most common misconception is thinking that food that has passed its “use by” date or “sell by” date is inedible or ingestion of expired foods may lead to illnesses. Against common belief, the “use by” date only determines when the product is no longer at its freshest. Most foods can still be eaten past the “use by” date. Eggs, for example, can still be eaten a few weeks after purchase. Non-perishable food such as canned foods or granola bars can last even longer with little to no difference in taste or quality. Too often consumers misinterpret the sell-by date and let perfectly good foods sit on shelves in grocery stores. Because of these misconceptions, more than 90 percent of Americans throw out food prematurely, and 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is eventually tossed, according to studies by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Though this ignorance has led to high amounts of avoidable food waste, consumers aren’t the only ones to blame. Since there are no federal standards for labels on food products, it is left to food companies to put labels on their items. The result is that standards for sell-by dates differ for every state. The inconsistency among labels makes it hard for consumers to rely on the label for solid information. It also increases burdens on manufacturers and retailers by creating more food waste. The obvious solution would be to standardize food labels across the country. This would eliminate the inconsistency and providing reliable information to consumers. Removing irrelevant information such as the “sell by” date would also clear confusion about the freshness and edibility of food. With easy ways to solve food waste, Americans can keep more food out of the landfills and in our fridges.