FOOD LABELS (H 2205/S 1390)

By Bob Katzen

The Committee on Public Health held a hearing on proposals that would standardize the date labels on food products sold in the Bay State by establishing two kinds of date labels to mitigate widespread consumer confusion and reduce food waste.

The “Quality Date” label would indicate the date on which the quality of the food product may begin to deteriorate but it is still acceptable for consumption. The “Safety Date” label would apply to certain high-risk food products, signifying the point at which under any storage conditions, consumption of the food may pose a safety risk.

“Food waste is an enormous problem in the United States, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of our food supply – about 400 pounds per year per American – trucked to landfills according to the USDA,” said sponsor of the Senate version of the bill Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Lowell). “This, despite the fact that many residents continue to struggle with hunger. The current voluntary labeling standard is confusing and bills at the federal level to create a standard labeling practice have stalled. This bill creates uniformity in labeling to make it less confusing, in an effort to reduce food waste. These changes to create a standardized food labeling system will eliminate consumer confusion and reduce food waste, which in part will help to reduce hunger as well as benefit retailers and the environment.”

“In my role as a co-founder and co-chair of the Food System Caucus, reducing food insecurity and food waste are two important priorities,” said Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) who sponsored the House version. “This legislation addresses both by providing standardized language that differentiates clearly what food is still safe to eat and donate, versus what food is not.”

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