By: Brian Sterricker
Yesterday, Charleston|Orwig hosted another interesting, thoughtful session around a significant topic in the food system: food waste. While the subject matter is clearly too large and nuanced to cover in a single day, a handful of sub-topics managed to stick out to me.
The most interesting issue is—to be most inclusive—“dates.” I would say expiration dates, but that’s too 1988. I’d say sell-by dates, but that sounds very 2001. I’d say best-by dates, but that’s, well, that’s just its own kind of what-are-you-really-telling-me.
I’m sure the first packaging dates were printed with the best intentions. After all, who wouldn’t want to be known for helping consumers avoid potential illness? However the ensuing years have taken us down a winding road of useful and less-than-useful information about manufacturing dates, packaging dates, freshest-by dates and other dates which appear to be more opinion than utilitarian.
I have opinions myself. Maybe the industry could use my dating suggestion: I don’t know—it’s just a thought.
The only federal laws about food dating pertain to infant formula . Some states employ various guidelines. But that’s it. So in the end, it’s a case of “eater beware.”
What do you think about food dating: helpful, pointless or somewhere in between? And if it’s not all that helpful, what could make it more so?