PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- Officials in New Jersey are taking new steps to standardize and improve food date labels to reduce food waste and help families save money on groceries.
Congressman Josh Gottheimer was joined by food security advocates, nutritionists and others at Stew Leonard's Monday morning to announce the changes being made to food labels.
He said many major food manufacturers are too tight when it comes to expiration dates.
"Food manufacturers can pick a random date and game the system," Gottheimer said. "Not the actual date it goes bad."
The congressman is leading a bipartisan effort to standardize expiration date terminology across the country.
Local nutrition experts said those labels are leading to a major waste of food in this country.
"So many of us look at the date and get confused," Registered Dietitian April Milevski said. "We look at the date and throw it because we fear we might get sick."
Most date labels indicate when the manufacturer believes the product is fresh, which is not necessarily based on scientific food safety considerations, according to the congressman's office.
"Thirty-eight percent of our food ends up in the garbage," said Sarah Elnakib with the Rutgers Climate Institute.
That equals to 160 billion pounds or $218 billion worth of food each year.
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