NEW JERSEY – In an effort to reduce food waste and the impact it has on our environment, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee Thursday advanced two bills sponsored by Senator Bob Smith, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Richard Codey, which would standardize food date labeling and facilitate composting for more schools around the state.
“Roughly 30 to 40 percent of the US food supply ends up in the trash. While it is difficult to avoid food waste all together, we can do more to prevent it,” said Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset), Chair of the Senate Environment Committee. “By standardizing the labeling system, we can make it easier for consumers to figure out if a product poses a health risk or is just past its prime.”
The first bill, S-418, sponsored by Senators Smith and Greenstein, would require manufacturers using food date labeling to either indicate a “BEST if used by” date or a “USE by date.” Under the bill, the best by date would indicate when the quality may begin to deteriorate while the use by date would signal when there is a risk associated with consumption.
“Food waste is a serious problem around the world and here in New Jersey. While we don’t want residents eating things that are going to make them sick, we also don’t want them throwing away perfectly good food,” said Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will educate residents on how to interpret the dates marked on packaging and how to know when something is truly expired.”
Under the bill, the Commissioner of Health would establish an educational campaign on food safety and the new food labeling system.
A second bill, S-3153, sponsored by Senator Codey, would authorize schools with existing in-vessel composting systems to receive and compost food from other schools, as long as they have the capacity to do it.
“It is great to see more districts around the state investing in composting systems. Many schools have the capacity to compost more food waste than they generate, but unfortunately, current regulations require special licenses for anyone transporting food waste,” said Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “This legislation will allow parents and volunteers to bring food from one school to another, to ensure we are composting as much as possible.”
The bill were released from committee by votes of 3-2 and 5-0, respectively.