The Global FoodBanking Network and Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic research identifies policy opportunities to address critical global issues.Food waste depletes natural resources, causes lasting environmental damage, and squanders an opportunity to redirect food to millions of people who are food insecure. Food donation offers a solution—it redirects safe, surplus food from the landfill to those who need it most, decreases food waste, and mitigates climate change. Food date labels are a key driver of food waste and a significant obstacle to food donation. Generally intended to reflect how long the manufacturer believes the food will maintain its peak quality and flavor, food date labels are mistakenly interpreted as safety indicators. Because of this confusion, potential food donors mistakenly throw away safe, surplus food when a food item reaches the date on its label, or this food is refused by food recovery organizations, leading to more food waste. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic and The Global FoodBanking Network published a new Issue Brief through The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas to help global leaders address the issue of food date labels. Promoting Food Donation: Expiration Date Labels shares three best practices designed to make food date labels less confusing, support food donation, reduce food waste, and limit climate change:
- National governments or governments of a common economic region should standardize to a dual date labeling scheme, clearly differentiating between a quality-based and safety-based date label.
- National laws should expressly permit the sale or donation of food past a quality-based date label.
- National governments and their relevant departments should launch widespread consumer education campaigns on the meaning of date labels for businesses, food safety officials, and consumers, in partnership with the private sector to maximize the effectiveness of the date labeling scheme.
###The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic Since 2010, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) has served partner organizations and communities by providing guidance on cutting-edge food system issues while engaging and educating law students in the practice of food law and policy. FLPC is committed to advancing a cross-sector, multidisciplinary, and inclusive approach to its work, building partnerships with academic institutions, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, private-sector actors, and civil society with expertise in public health, the environment, and the economy. FLPC’s work focuses on increasing access to healthy foods, supporting sustainable production and regional food systems, promoting community-led food system change, and reducing waste of healthy, wholesome food. The Global FoodBanking Network The Global FoodBanking Network supports community-driven solutions to alleviate hunger in more than 40 countries. While millions struggle to access enough safe and nutritious food, nearly a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. We’re changing that. We believe food banks directed by local leaders are key to achieving Zero Hunger and building resilient food systems. For more information, visit foodbanking.org.