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Why We’re Throwing Away $29 Billion in Food Each Year

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That Americans throw out a considerable amount of food each year isn’t surprising. That Americans are throwing out $29 billion in perfectly good food because, at least in part, the packaging is confusing to read is a little harder to swallow.

But as Quartz reports, that’s exactly what’s happening. Why? Companies use a variety of different language on food packaging such as “best before” and “Display until.” Some of the dates are meant for customers, others for retailers, but the lines around which line is meant form whom can get a little blurry. As a result, customers often see something like a “Display until” date, which is meant for a business, and interpret it as an expiration date, leading them to throw away a perfectly good product.

This month, Walmart, Tesco, Kellogg and Campbell pledged to stop using the above terms on packaging, and instead use labels that are a bit easier to understand, for instance, “Use by” for perishable foods you shouldn’t eat after a certain date, and “Best if used by” for goods that will be better if you consume them by a specific time. The package changes should come by 2020.