California Food Expiration Dates May Change Under Proposed Law

canned food? It may be too early to throw it away. Dry foods such as cereals and pasta? You may be holding them too long. Why? Because there is no federal law requiring uniform expiration date warnings on packaged foods.

But California legislator Jackie Irwin is trying to bring labeling consistency to the state through AB 660. The wide variety of labels in use today “consistently misleads and confuses consumers,” Irwin told the San Francisco Chronicle. (The Chronicle and SFGATE are both owned by Hearst, but have separate newsrooms.)

Irwin told The Chronicle that when he recently visited a grocery store, he noticed at least three different labels in just one aisle. Due to the chaos, she seeks law.

Irwin’s bill, which takes effect January 1, 2025, requires the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health to “support food” if approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. I’m trying Manufacturers, processors and retailers display uniform “food labels with quality and safety dates” for safe human consumption only.

Simply put, her bill would require manufacturers, processors and retailers to use consistent labeling to better help consumers. Conveys ideal freshness and quality, and “use by” indicates when it is no longer safe for humans to consume. There will be no labels that apply only to retailers.

Note that the Consumer Brands Association is opposing the bill because the bill only covers California. The group, which “defends an industry for products that Americans rely on every day,” argues that selling to California retailers “makes business difficult for companies outside of the state.”

The association supports federal legislation, but these efforts have failed in the past.

According to the Chronicle, AB 660 is sponsored by two environmental groups, Californians Against Waste and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The bill passed the relevant committees and now heads to the congressional floor whose fate is uncertain given industry opposition.

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