Major Food Companies to Standardize Date Labels

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Sep 25, 2017

A group of consumer goods makers and retailers plan to simplify and standardize food date labels to reduce food waste.

Major consumer food makers and retailers including Kellogg, Nestle and Wal-Mart will work together to create simplified, standardized food date labels, according to the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF). The forum, along with Champions 12.3, has approved a call to action to standardize food date labels worldwide by 2020. The change is reportedly being made because confusing labeling has been found to be one of the leading causes of food waste around the world. In the U.S. alone, it's estimated that 40 percent of food purchased is wasted. 

The standardized labeling would use one expiration date on perishable items and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items, the CGF said in a statement. The exact wording of the labels would be region-specific, Reuters reported Sept. 20.

Confusion over date labels on food products costs families up to $29 billion annually in the U.S. alone, according to the CGF, which represents some 400 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries.

"Simplifying food date labels is an important step forward in preventing food waste, and will help end the confusion related to ‘sell-by’ dates," Maria Fernanda Mejia, Kellogg Co.’s senior vice president, said in the statement.

Simplified and consistent date labeling will help companies halve food waste by 2025, said Peter Freedman, managing director of the CGF. Several food and drink makers including Mondelez International and Unilever are said to be setting their own standards for ethical sourcing of raw materials.

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