Federal legislation proposed to curb food waste.

  • As previously covered on this blog, food waste is a major issue in the United States.  Government estimates indicate that Americans waste between 30 and 40% of the overall food supply on an annual basis.
  • Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) has introduced a bill that proposes a sweeping and multi-faceted reform to America’s approach to food waste.  The “Food Recovery Act of 2015” (H.R. 4184) seeks to create tax incentives and provide grants to promote the diversion of food to food banks and the composting of inedible food scraps (e.g., banana peels, eggshells).  The law also would standardize date marking on foods such that label dates would be immediately preceded by the words, “Best if Used By” (or “Expires on,” in the case of ready-to-eat foods at high risk of microbial contamination if not consumed by a certain date) and followed by the statement, “Manufacturer’s Suggestion Only.”  This modification is intended to clarify that the date marking on most foods (with the exception of infant formula) is just the manufacturer’s suggestion and does not mean the food is unsafe to consume after that date.  The bill contains provisions intended to promote food waste reduction strategies specific to farms, the retail and restaurant sectors, schools and public institutions, and state governments.
  • Although the bill likely will garner ideological support, it remains to be seen whether legislation this comprehensive — and which necessarily poses administrative and implementation challenges — will gain traction.