Smith-Greenstein Bill Establishing Standards for Food Labeling Clears Senate

Senator Bob Smith congratulates Congressman Donald Norcross on his succession to the U.S. House of Representatives.

TRENTON- Today the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Smith and Linda Greenstein intended to standardize food date labeling, while at the same time addressing food waste reduction in order to mitigate climate change and reduce hunger in New Jersey.

The bill, S-3028, would standardize food date labels and require the Department of Health to create a public education program on food date labeling and establish guidelines related to food safety.  Under the bill, a manufacturer could use: 1) a “quality date” label to indicate the date after which the quality of a food product may begin to deteriorate, but is still acceptable for consumption; or 2) an “elevated-risk date” to indicate the date, established by manufacturer, after which there is a high level of risk associated with the consumption of a food product.

“We have a major problem with waste in this country and food insecure families in New Jersey,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex-Somerset). “Standardizing the labels in this manner will lead to less food being thrown out, which will benefit our families health, as well as our environment.”

“Food waste is a massive global problem and we need to be part of the solution,” said Senator Greenstein. “As a State, we need to reduce food waste.  Taking care of our environment for our children should be a natural instinct, not an afterthought. Ultimately this is the intent of this legislation. ”

Americans waste a shocking amount of food every year, with as much as 40 percent of the food in the U.S. going uneaten. This accounts for 160 billion pounds of food wasted each year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture these statistics are made even worse when you consider that 42.2 million Americans live in food insecure households. Apart from the human cost, reducing food waste is beneficial for the environment; reducing water, fertilizer, and oil use, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Food waste in the United States produces the annual equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 33 million passenger vehicles.

The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 24-11. Now it heads to the Assembly for further consideration.