Clarity on food labels maximizing food safety versus perpetuating unnecessary food waste seems to have risen to the debate level of “the chicken versus the egg.” Rarely, though, do you see industry leaders take matters into their own hands by way of making themselves the experiment.
That is what Scott Nash, Founder and CEO of MOM’s Organic Market, decided to do in the battle against sending good food to the landfills.
“I personally despise waste. So, when I'd come across products in my kitchen that looked perfectly fine, but were past the expiration date, I'd eat them! After doing this for years and seeing so many perfectly fine products being discarded at our stores due to very arbitrary food-dating, I decided to document for a year all of the past-date products I’d consumed and to write a blog about it,” Scott shares with me.
Scott started MOM’s at the age of 22 with an initial investment of $100 as a home delivery business out of his mom’s garage. It has since expanded to a multi-state operation with a clear purpose to protect, restore, and recycle. It’s hardly a secret this man will tackle a challenge for the greater good.
When I ask him what his experience has shown him that needs to happen in our industry to help prevent throwing product out unnecessarily, he is precise.
“What I think needs to happen is for there to be consistency in labeling verbiage, dating based on scientific testing as to when products actually become a safety risk to eat, with one date descriptor only—replacing 'sell by', 'best by', 'use by', 'best if used by', 'freeze by', etc. Doing this would eliminate SO much food waste!” he shares.
Scott agrees that perishable items like meat or milk definitely need some dating guidelines, but that canned goods and products in jars or bottles are more flexible. In fact, he argues they are never a safety risk to consume.
“Some items, like salt, baby wipes, lotions, etc. can't possibly have a health risk,” he continues. (My personal favorite post on his blog is “Just my luck, 250 million year old salt that expires next year.”)
Scott’s tactics are gaining traction, such as a report by SCNow on his self-imposed experiment. In it, Emily Broad Leib of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic says that to have an impact, the changes Scott is calling for need to be federally mandated.
“We’re going to need the main government agencies that regulate food to be able to say: These are what these labels mean. When you see these on products, here’s what you should do, here’s how you should interpret them,” Broad Leib told the news source.
Will this be the first step big enough to put those actions in motion? Deli Market News will continue to report.