Standardized date label on food

Standardized date label on food

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Anais Pierce started this petition to Legislatures and

Environmental issues are all around us, so much affects how we live and our way of life. From water pollution and global warming; to deforestation and land degradation; the world faces extreme problems that should and must be addressed before life on this planet is eradicated. Among those many issues that are prominent and discussed, who would have thought food waste would be one of them. Food waste is an environmental issue that makes an impact globally, locally, and individually. “Given humanity’s biological nature, the procurement, preparation, eating, and wasting of food has been a constant feature of our history” (van der Werf, Seabrook, & Gilliland, 2018). With food waste, the environment is affected in many ways. Food waste happens mainly in the production phase; which includes storage, and this happens at the global level with developing countries being more likely to lose or have waste at the production level more than the consumption level, due to lack of proper harvesting.

 

Food waste is not just what happens at the consumer level, it impacts the environment with the waste of all the resources used in growing it. “Food production causes about 30% to 35% of the global climate impact, is the major cause of species extinction, and involves about 70% of the global freshwater use” (Wikstrom, 2018). Trillions of gallons of water, acres upon acres of land, oil, and diesel/fossil fuel are used and wasted. It affects everything from the growing of crops to the raising of livestock. For instance, it takes to water and land to grow the grain to feed the livestock, then water and land for the livestock to grow, and all of this is prior to processing the meat for consumption. When the meat from production spoils, all of the processes it went through to be made ready for consumption is waste.

80 billion pounds of food gets thrown out, that is about 219 pounds per person waste annually. That food makes its way to the landfills, where it sits, decays, and creates methane gas. Methane is a greenhouse gas; high levels of methane gas can be harmful when it reduces the amount of oxygen breathed from the air. The greenhouse effect in itself is not a bad thing. It is only when too many greenhouse gases are released that the Earth becomes damaged. The Earth becoming too hot, will cause a ripple effect within climate changes.

Food waste affects the environment globally, locally, and individually with lasting impacts. It wastes valuable resources, such as water and land. Food waste in landfills creates methane gasses. It also impacts low-income families, who already struggle with food insecurities. Food waste is a bigger environmental injustice than one would think, but it is not one that cannot be fixed.

Billions of pounds of food waste being produced by food manufacturers, which can be avoided with alternative methods, or in some cases, reusable. Knowing this, how is it that manufacturers have not found better ways to handle their food waste situation? One solution comes from the confusion consumers have when reading product date labels. Many consumers get confused by the different ways manufacturers label dates on their packaging. When words like sell by, use by, best by/before, or even just a number code is used it can be incredibly confusing as to when exactly food products are expiring. The creation and implementation of a standardized date label that all product manufacturers must use would help consumers have a clearer knowledge of when food is going to expire and thus help lower food waste levels.

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