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Food Waste & 'Best By' Dates

About food waste

Every year in the United States, approximately 31% (133 billion pounds) of the overall food supply is wasted.

When food ends up in landfills and decomposes, it creates methane, a greenhouse gas more harmful than CO2, that accelerates climate change. The greenhouse gases that result from food waste produce the equivalent amount of 37 million cars.

It is often believed that this waste comes exclusively from perishable items, however, huge numbers of non-perishables also end up getting thrown out for crazy reasons.  A change in packaging, a minor typo, a batch of products that aren’t 100% consistent (think extra toasty cheez-its) can all mean products get tossed.  The primary reason, however, that perfect foods end up in the landfill is the lack of information on expiration dates.

Expiration dates 

Expiration dates are not required by law except on baby foods.  They are added by the manufacturer to indicate a period for which the product is guaranteed to be of highest quality.  These labels are not a measure of safety - and when it comes to non-perishables, the worst case scenario is the product doesn’t taste as fresh.  However, since manufacturers never want customers to experience a less fresh product they typically set a 'Best By' date several months before the product's freshness is actually impacted. 

At the same time that manufacturers cut their true ‘Best By’ dates by several months, retailers start refusing to take products like cereal, crackers, and even honey (which never expires) when it comes within 5-6 months of its best by date.  This is often when the manufacturers who invest the most in premium ingredients (and thus have the most to lose) start to panic -- that’s when we step in.  

While Oats & Kind never sells anything that falls within 2-4 weeks of its 'Best By' date, we hope this information will provide reassurance as we all work to keep delicious, perfect foods out of our landfills!