Sen. Blumenthal: Food Labeling Bill Could ‘Potentially Save Lives'

By Penny Starr | May 19, 2016 | 9:49am EDT
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) spoke at a press conference on May 18, 2016 on Capitol Hill about a bill to reduce food waste and help feed 'food insecure' Americans by nationalized labeling standards. They were joined at the press conference by food industry representatives and food waste reduction advocates supportive of the bill. ( Starr)

( – Democrats in the House and Senate introduced a food labeling bill on Wednesday, that they said could curb food waste in the United States while at the same time allowing food donations to millions of “food insecure” Americans.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the Food Date Labeling Act would set a national standard for food labeling to make clear when food is at its peak quality and when it is no longer safe to consume.

“What our legislation would do is to distinguish between those two factors and save money, save cost to manufacturers and retailers, save a lot of expense for families and save food and potentially save lives, because food could be donated even after the date indicated if it is accurate,” Blumenthal said.

The bill would thus allow retailers to make food available to “people who are food insecure,” Blumenthal said.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, said that 40 percent of food is wasted in the United States, citing data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which estimates that 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted each year.

“We could have came [sic] to this because we’ve been learning a lot about food waste and the fact that 40 percent of food in the country is wasted and we have 50 million people struggling with hunger,” Pingree said. “So as the Senator said we could feed a lot more people if we weren’t throwing so much of our food away or losing it in a number of ways.”

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, “In 2014, 86.0 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The remaining 14.0 percent (17.4 million households) were food insecure. Food-insecure households (those with low and very low food security) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources.”

These statistics show a decrease in food insecurity from a high of 14.9 percent in 2011.

In September 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a campaign to cut food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

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