Decoding the Secret Language of Food Expiration Dates
While many consumers consider the dates printed on foods a hard deadline, they actually indicate maximum quality or freshness, not safety, explains David Fikes, vice president in charge of consumer affairs at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), a food trade group. Producers want people to have the best experience of product, he says. Theres a window after the expiration date when a product is still edibleit just wont look or taste quite as good. While some of those products are donated to food banks, many end up in the landfill. (Former Trader Joes President Doug Rauch is opening a market called the Daily Table in Massachusetts early next year that will prepare or cook these expired products and sell them at fast-food prices.) This contributes to the $390 of food the average American wastes each year, and the 160 billion pounds of food the country wastes annually, according to the new report by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council . One of the problems, NRDC scientist Dana Gunders says, is that none of the myriad ways foods are labeled actually tell consumers when they should throw out a product. The next time you clean out your pantry, consider what these common marks really mean: Pack date: This is the day the product was manufactured. It can be helpful, for instance, if theres a product recall. Sell-by date: A note to retailers about when to pull a product from the shelves. Its still safe to use after this date, but grocers generally remove it because consumers wont trust it. Heres a rough guide from FMI on how long foods will stay in top shape after the sell-by date milk , for example, is typically good for as long as five days after the sell-by date. Best-if-used-by date/use-by date: This is a note to consumers and is typically later than the sell-by date would be.
Food UniversityTM is launched at Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting
Esteban oversees three USDA laboratories where the food supply is analyzed for potential food-borne hazards. The labs run some 200,000 tests a year, including about 100,000 for E. coli, salmonella and listeria. Esteban often is part of the team that decides to remove certain food from stores. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly one in six Americans, or 48 million people, get food-borne diseases each year; 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Esteban said the ability of scientists to detect contamination has greatly improved. Analyzing a food sample can now be done in a matter of hours instead of weeks. Scientists also are capable of extracting information on multiple pathogens from individual food samples. Esteban said scientists can produce a DNA fingerprint of dangerous bacteria found in a sick person and match it with the DNA of the bacteria found in a food source. A precise determination of the cause of an outbreak means a faster response that may save lives. Government work: Esteban spent seven years at the CDC as an epidemic intelligence service officer, staff epidemiologist and assistant director for food safety. He moved to the USDA in 2001 and has held the roles of food safety laboratory director, scientific adviser and now executive associate for laboratory services.
It is estimated that world food consumption will require a 70% increase in annual agriculture production by 2050. With 60% of the worlds share of uncultivated arable land, Africa offers a real solution to this challenge. This commitment helps galvanize diverse partners across Africa and other parts of the world to make this vision a reality. The Alliance is launching pilot campuses over the next two years in Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania. Over the next ten years, the Alliance will leverage investment, philanthropic and development funds to educate a million students and contribute to building 20 responsible agribusiness communities that will have a far-reaching impact by providing improved access to essential community services, including health, education, financial services, clean water and sanitation. The ImagineAfrica Alliance has built a platform of engagement and support from many leaders across Africa. I have been thrilled to participate in the dreaming and designing of Food University, said Dr.Ruth Oniang’o, editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, and Chair of the Rural Outreach Programme in Kenya. This innovative initiative will play a critical role in developing the leaders, entrepreneurs and talent we need for a food-secure Africa. The ImagineAfrica Alliance is a public-private partnership of corporations, academia, NGOs, government agencies and investors. With the collective interest and resources of such a group, coupled with the magnitude of this initiative, the Alliance hopes to unleash the huge productive and prosperity-inducing potential of agriculture in Africa. For more information, please visit www.imagineafricaalliance.org . About the ImagineAfrica Alliance The ImagineAfrica Alliance is nurturing a new generation of Africans who are prepared to succeed, engaged in decent work, and actively pursuing their dreams. Our mission is to provide workers, farmers, and young people with the skills, incentives and opportunities they need to succeed, while also helping investors and commercial operators maximize their social and financial returns across the agriculture and food value ecosystem. The ImagineAfrica Alliance is a unique network of African and international partners (private, public, and civil society) committed to working together toward achieving these goals. About the Clinton Global Initiative Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the worlds most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries.