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Why We Can Rescue Food: Understanding Food Date Labels

Food rescue is a crucial initiative that helps bridge the gap between surplus food and those facing food insecurity. One of the most common misconceptions about food rescue revolves around the various date labels found on food products, such as “sell by,” “best by,” and “use by.” Understanding these labels can help clarify why so much food is still perfectly good to eat and can be rescued.

Misinterpretation and Food Waste

Many people mistakenly believe that these labels indicate safety, leading them to discard food that is still edible. This misunderstanding significantly contributes to food waste. In the United States alone, food waste costs over $200 billion annually, with households responsible for two-thirds of this waste. For an average family of four, this translates to a financial loss of $1,500 to $1,800 per year.


Understanding food date labels is key to reducing food waste and making the most of our resources. By recognizing that many date labels indicate quality rather than safety, we can confidently rescue and use food that would otherwise go to waste. Through food rescue, we can provide nutritious meals to those facing food insecurity and contribute to a more sustainable food system.

Join us in our mission to waste less and feed more. Together, we can make a difference!