Up to 40% of all food produced in the US is currently wasted and 83% of this is either wasted in food services such as restaurants and hotels, or at home. Currently, a whopping 63 million tons of food is not recycled or recovered, but instead heads to landfill, is incinerated, or remains unharvested.
More than one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted — approximately 2.5 billion tons
Food waste will rise by a third by 2030, when 2.1bn tons will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tons per second.
Developing nations experience greater unintended post-harvest losses at the start of the value chain because of inadequate technology, transportation infrastructure, storage and cooling facilities, and more extreme weather conditions.
Developed nations experience the greatest share of food waste towards the end of the value chain as food becomes abundant and consumers more picky, affluent, and wasteful.
Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food - 222 million tons - as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa - 230 million tons.
How can you help stop food waste?
Put together a detailed shopping list before you go to the grocery store by planning your meals in advance—and avoid impulse purchases.
Recognize that while your eyes may be bigger than your stomach, your plate doesn’t have to be. Using smaller plates can help you to properly portion your food.
Don’t be afraid of an emptier fridge. When you can’t see food you have purchased, you’re more likely to forget about it and let it rot.
Keep track of the food you’re throwing away the most to cut down on trends.
There's no standardized system for food dating in this country. Approximately 40 states require dates on some perishable foods, like meat and dairy, so nowadays you're likely to see your groceries labeled. But spoiler alert (pun intended): Food products are safe to consume past the date on the label, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
In order to reduce food waste, FSIS recommends that regardless of the date, consumers should evaluate the quality of the food before deciding to eat it or throw it away. (The one exception: Federal law requires a date on all infant formulas for safety and it should always be followed.)
Food Labels: Depending on where you live, you may see different dates on your food, and each has a different purpose. Here's a bit of clarity based on information from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) and FSIS.
Best If Used By/Before: This is a quality assurance date and serves as a "suggestion" for when the taste and quality of food is at its peak. It is not a purchase or safety date.
Use By: This is the suggested date by which you should eat the food. But just because it's a day or two past the use-by date doesn't mean that consuming it will make you sick, although you should evaluate the quality of the food yourself after this time. It is not a safety date, except when used on infant formula.
Sell By: If you're at the grocery store and the very last unit of your favorite yogurt has that day's sell-by date, you can still buy it. This is not a safety date, but rather a date for retailers that helps them determine how long an item should remain on the shelf. According to the IFT, "one-third of a food's shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home."
Freeze By: According to the USDA, this date indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.