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IN PART 1 YESTERDAY WE DISCUSSED the food terms “Best-By,” “Sell-By,” and “Use-By.” Today’s Part 2 continues with the crucial aspect of food waste, a specific matter of eggs, and a couple of recipes that are family favs.
VOA VIEW. The Voice of America recognizes a serious matter in “ ‘Best Before’ Labels Scrutinized as Food Waste Concern Grow,” October 10, 2022. “As awareness grows around the world about the problem of food waste, one culprit in particular is drawing scrutiny: ‘best before’ labels.”
VOA continues, “Manufacturers have used the labels for decades to estimate peak freshness. Unlike ‘use by’ labels, which are found on perishable foods like meat and dairy, ‘best before’ labels have nothing to do with safety and may encourage consumers to throw away food that’s perfectly fine to eat.”
“To tackle the problem,” VOA notes, “major U.K. chains like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer recently removed “best before” labels from prepackaged fruit and vegetables. The European Union is expected to announce a revamp to its labeling laws by the end of this year; it’s considering abolishing ‘best before’ labels altogether.”
However, VOA adds, “In the U.S., there’s no similar push to scrap ‘best before’ labels. But there is growing momentum to standardize the language on date labels to help educate buyers about food waste, including a push from big grocers and food companies and bipartisan legislation in Congress.”
VOA cites Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED, a New York-based nonprofit that studies food waste: “I do think that the level of support for this has grown tremendously.”
A Global Problem. VOA writes, “The United Nations estimates that 17% of global food production is wasted each year; most of that comes from households. In the U.S., as much as 35% of food available goes uneaten, ReFED says. That adds up to a lot of wasted energy — including the water, land and labor that goes into the food production — and higher greenhouse gas emissions when unwanted food goes into landfills.”
VOA observes, “There are many reasons food gets wasted, from large portion sizes to customers’ rejection of imperfect produce. But ReFED estimates that 7% of U.S. food waste—or 4 million tons annually—is due to consumer confusion over ‘best before’ labels.”
Seven percent may not seem like a major problem. But 4 million tons annually certainly is.
Dates on Egg Cartons. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service writes, “Use of either a ‘Sell-By’ or ‘Expiration’ (EXP) date is not a Federal regulation, but may be required, as defined by the egg laws in the state where the eggs are marketed. Some state egg laws do not allow the use of a ‘sell-by’ date.”
“Many eggs reach stores only a few days after the hen lays them,” FSIS continues. “Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them must display the ‘pack date’ (the day that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton). This number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365. When a ‘sell-by’ date appears on a carton bearing the USDA grade shield, the code date may not exceed 30 days from the date of pack.”
“After purchasing eggs,” FSIS says, “it is recommended to refrigerate them in their original carton and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door due to loss of coolness from repeated opening of the door.”
My Occasional Egg Use. Now and then I enjoy Chipso Mayai (Tanzanian Eggs, scrambled with crisped french fries, onions, sweet peppers, and hot sauce) or Korean Gilgeorgi (shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, egg, ham, jam, and gochujang on toast).
Otherwise, I don’t use eggs much, so they occasionally reside in the fridge well after their “sell-by” date. No problem, though; allrecipes.com advises, “Eggs will typically last three to five weeks past the sell-by date but if you’re unsure if you’re in the clear, look for signs of mold and/or odors that seem off or stinky.”
In fact, if I explore the three-to-five-weeks, it’s easy enough to break each egg into a cup before mixing it with other ingredients. (I have yet to encounter a bad one.)
And, by the way, Chipsi Mayai and Gilgeori have become real family favs. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022