SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Food waste is estimated at between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. according to the FDA.
But a local dietitian says there are ways people can help curb that number.
It’s happened to many of us… you open the fridge, grab an item and realize it’s expired. And when it’s time to toss it out, Joy Renberg says it’s like throwing money in the garbage.
“You buy it and it sits in the fridge for a couple days and then your lettuce is bad, or you cut your head of lettuce and two days later you gotta throw the whole thing away because you didn’t use it fast enough,” Renberg says.
But it’s not just because people aren’t consuming their food fast enough that’s contributing to food waste. Registered dietitian Tiffany Krogstad says date labeling on products is also an issue.
“All packaged foods are going to have a date on them, which could include the sell by date, the best if used by date, or the use by date which for consumers can be really confusing or misleading at times,” Krogstad said.
The tricky part is that none of them are referring to the safety of the item according to the USDA.
In fact, the USDA says even if the date passes, a product should still be safe to consume if handled properly until spoilage of the item is evident. To preserve your products even longer, registered dietitian Tiffany Krogstad says freezing them is also an option.
“If you can at all freeze them, or cook them and put them in the freezer but otherwise it’s not necessarily detrimental to go by that specific date and the food item might be good past that date from several days to a week,” Krogstad said.
“My mom used to freeze gallons of milk. You buy it on sale, throw it in the freezer if you had space, and that’s the way you did it,” Renberg said.
But if your food does go bad before you have a chance to consume it, dietitians say you do have options.
Krogstad says composting is a good way to utilize excess food that’s gone bad, and Renberg agrees.
“Just try to waste as little as possible. If you look in the fridge and it’s looking bad try to find something to do with it,” Renberg said.
Krogstad says an app called “The Food Keeper” can also be helpful when it comes to cutting down on food waste. She says the app helps consumers determine how long certain products are considered good to eat if stored properly.
For more information on the app, click here.