NEW YORK (WABC) -- America has a food waste problem, according to the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.
The federal agency estimates Americans throw out about 133 billion pounds of food worth $161 billion each year.
'7 On Your Side Investigates' took that information and compared food waste, the largest contributor to solid waste in the US, to the average amount of food a person consumes each year, about 1,996 pounds, according to the USDA.
Based on that information, Americans throw out enough food each year to feed everyone in France for the entire year.
The Food and Drug Administration has said confusion about food labels is partly to blame and account for about 20% of consumer food waste.
Currently, manufacturers use several terms to indicate food quality dates including "sell by," "use by," and "best if used by."
According to the FDA, "if stored properly a food product should be safe and of good quality after the quality date."
To eliminate confusion, multiple agencies have recommended using just two food quality labels.
1. Use by: meaning products should be consumed by the date on the package.
2. Best if used by meaning the product can be consumed after the date on the package but the quality or taste may be reduced.
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Americans waste enough food to feed everyone in France, feds say