Consumers wasting food because of 'use by' dates - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Consumers wasting food because of 'use by' dates

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(CBS) -

There are dates stamped on everything in our refrigerators, but sometimes it is unclear when the product will actually go bad.

The terms ‘use by' or ‘sell by' can be confusing and often times experts have said that consumers throw away perfectly good food, simply because they don't know the difference.

Peter Lehner from the National Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, said the dates are not expiration dates.

"You don't need to throw it out if it's past the date on the label,” Lehner said.

The NRDC estimates that nine out of 10 Americans are confused by the dates.

A family of four throws about $2,000 worth of still edible food away every year.

The dates are up to the manufacturers, there's no federal standards for anything in this store except for infant formula,” Lehner said.

Many foods, he said, if stored properly, can last long after the label says.

Milk is good for at least one week past the printed date. Eggs can still be good three to five weeks after they are purchased.

Many canned products last for up to five years.

The Grocery Manufacturer's Association said the dates indicate freshness, but admits that changes are needed.

The association officials said they are working to improve current code dating practices with the goal of creating a uniform global standard that will make it easier to interpret date labels.

Lehner said until then, consumers should use common sense.

"You can open it and smell it you can take a look at it and for most things you'll be able to tell whether or not it's still good,” Lehner said.

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