A Simplified approach to packaging can help avoid

In what will likely be interpreted as a positive step for food label activists, US food manufac- turers have now agreed to a new system by which particular aspects of the product label – in this case, the “ use by ” or “ best by ” information – will be streamlined to minimise the number of terms bei ng incorporated. According to some researchers, the confusion over these labels has helped transform the United States into the world ’ s leading producer of food waste. Astonishingly, US citizens throw away 53 million tons of food on an annual basis. Although it would easy to criticise Americans for simply being wasteful, many cons umers have voiced their confusion over when exactly a food p roduct spoils to the point that it is a danger to their health if consumed. Researchers have targeted the dubious natu re of expir a- tion terminology as the likely culprit behind this problem. At any given time, customers can expect to encounter over five different expiration d e- scriptors, including “ use by, best by, best before, sell by ” , and others. Perhaps, not surpris- in gly, many of these terms do not have a concrete, fixed definition attached to them which consumer can easily access. Out of fear of illness, it is not uncommon for consumers to throw away food products in the days leading up to the expiration date simply because they do not properly understand whether or not their leftovers have become a danger to them. The new policies being put forth will effectively limit food manufacturers to just two possible choices for their labelling. The two terms that have been selected are “ best if used by ” and “ use by ” . No other wording on this issue will be permitted. Food label activists are now confident that these chang es, combined with the numerous oth- er reforms being enacted in this particular industry, will lead to lasting benefits for all co n- sumers. Although some continue to ask why these “ simple ” changes have not been impl e- mented earlier, it is, nevertheless, a step in the right direction for all involved. For those who are interested in learning more about these food label changes or the pote n- tial long-term impact of such reforms, more information will likely be made available in co m- ing months. As with any substantial policy reforms, change is not always rapid. Neverth e- less, there is a clear trend in place which demonstrates that food labelling is become more transparent, accurate and accessible for all involved.