How to cut waste with the new labeling schemes

If one were to be looking for cues that the food labels industry were changing for the better, the recent news emerging from the United States sh ould be cause for celebr a- tion. According to recent report, US food manufacturers will now be working quickly to reform what has been criticised as one of the central causes of the country ’ s ma s- sive food waste problem. Currently, there exist well over five different terms used to define or describe an expiration date that can appear on a food product. Without a c- cess to concrete definitions regarding specifically what these terms mean or imply, many consumers have simply been throwing out their food well before it is actually spoiling in order to ensure that they avoid food borne illnesses. That being said, the philosophy of “ don ’ t ask, just throw away ” has transformed the United States into the world ’ s leading producer of food waste. Nearly $165 billion worth of food is trashed every year in the United States, an astonishi ng figure which can hardly be believed. The new “ best if used by ” label being introduced onto US packaging is believed to be a compelling solution for the chaotic nature of the country ’ s domestic food market today. Following the debut of this new term, all other expiration-related labelling will become prohibited with the exception of the “ use by ” term, which will complement the new labelling. It is the hope of labelling experts and policymakers alike that this new strategy will quickly and significantly reduce the volume of food waste in the country. The US is not alone in its attempts to curb product waste, however. In Europe, a team of scientists is currently developing a new laser-printed label system which will see product labelling ‘ printed ’ directly onto produce. This is accomplished using a powe r- ful laser which can alter pigmentation on fruit and vegetable skin without damaging the produce itself. When the skin of the fruit or vegetable is removed after purchase, there is virtually no indicator that the label had ever existed. This ‘ natural ’ form of l a- belling has been touted as a core component of new waste-reduction strategies. Specifically, the laser printing methodology mentioned here is believed to be capable of saving over 200 kilometres of plastic on a yearly basis. With this in mind, it could be argued that this method of labelling is truly a sustainable and waste-free alternative to current methods of packaging and branding. Although it may be easy to get mired in statistics detailing just how inefficient our food packaging, production and distribution systems may be, it is also worth reme m- bering just how far we have come in packaging and environmentally friendly design in recent years. These new systems of laser branding, as well as the introduction of a 5 | Page All Rights Reserved to Blue Ocean Media Private and Confidential comprehensive and restricted terminology set in the United States, are two significant steps on a productive path of sustainability that has been in the works for years. Food labels will sti ll undergo significant revisions in the future, of course, but these recent news items are undeniably a positive sign that food manuf acturers and pol i- cymakers alike are aware of just how important food label reform is for our enviro n- ment and our future. Wi th that in mind, these latest advancements should be we l- comed and cheered by all who have a passion for our planet.