When you go grocery shopping, do you look out for expiration dates? Do you ever pop inside your refrigerator to grab something to eat, and find yourself looking at an item’s expiration date before deciding whether to eat it or throw it away? Expiration dates play an important (and recently controversial) role in America’s food supply. The following YouTube video explains the results of a recent study released by Harvard Law School, which concludes that the expiration date labels on food products in the United States are not always accurate; oftentimes, we can safely eat food beyond the dates printed on these labels. This raises concerns regarding America’s food supply because it questions whether Americans are throwing away food too early, which contributes to unnecessary waste.
I’m not sure about you, but I was definitely able to relate to this video. I will throw away food in my refrigerator if the item’s expiration date has passed–even if just by a day or two. Despite whether the food still looks like it may be okay, I think it has magically turned into an unknown substance that is no longer edible. Maybe it’s a mental thing? I’m not sure, but I’m happy to know I’m not the only one with this “fear.”
Something from the video that really stood out to me was that there are no clear ‘rules’ governing expiration dates for America’s food supply. Dates vary, depending on the food’s location in the United States. This basically means that a gallon of milk I buy at a grocery store in New York may have an entirely different expiration date from the same gallon of milk sold by a grocery store in Florida. This doesn’t make any sense.
Laci explains that researchers are encouraging the federal government to regulate and reform food labels. I fully support this initiative. Despite the fact that it is very difficult to predict exact dates for when foods will expire, I believe that an ethical consideration exists here. The FDA needs to establish a clear set of standards for food labeling; this way, it can protect people’s health and safety, while at the same time preventing unnecessary waste. Products should not be labeled with dates that are too early, so people will not dispose of perfectly edible food. Our society today can be pretty wasteful of our resources. If the government establishes new food labeling standards, we may be able to prevent future food waste accumulation.