Food Waste and Loss
FDA strongly supports the food industry’s voluntary industry-wide efforts to use the “Best if Used By” introductory phrase when choosing to include a quality-based date label to indicate when a product will be at its best flavor and quality.
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30–40 percent of the food supply. This figure, based on estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service of 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Wasted food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and represents nourishment that could have helped feed families in need. Additionally, water, energy, and labor used to produce wasted food could have been employed for other purposes. Effectively reducing food waste will require cooperation among federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, communities, and the entire supply chain.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a joint agency formal agreement under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. The agreement is aimed at improving coordination and communication across federal agencies attempting to better educate Americans on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.
As part of the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, the USDA, EPA and FDA issued its FY2019-2020 Federal Interagency Strategy in April 2019. The Interagency Strategy identifies six priority areas on which the agencies will focus their efforts to reduce food loss and waste in the US. The priority areas highlight the importance that collaboration between government agencies and the engagement of leaders in the public, private and non-profit organizations will play in solving this problem.
On April 9, 2019, USDA, EPA, and FDA signed a formal agreement with ReFED, Inc. to collaborate on efforts to reduce food waste in the United States. The agencies and ReFED agreed to develop approaches for measuring the success of food waste strategies, advance data collection and measurement efforts, and to participate as appropriate in the Further with Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste partnership, among other activities.
The following are resources to help you do your part to reduce food loss and waste. You play a part in reaching the national food waste reduction goal – to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030 (see U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions Initiative).
Start using these tips today to reduce food waste, save money, and protect the environment.
Learn how food waste and food safety are connected.
Learn to reduce food waste at the grocery store or when eating out; in the kitchen while storing and preparing; at home while cooking, serving, and enjoying food with family and friends.
In a consumer update, FDA offers advice to help consumers determine if their food is still good to eat while also reducing food waste in their homes.
In November 2016, USDA and EPA announced the formation of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions group and presented the first set of 2030 Champions. U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions are businesses and organizations that have made a public commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2030.
Learn more about EPA's Sustainable Management of Food program and Wasted Food Programs and Resources Across the United States.
USDA is doing its part to help make preventing food waste the first-best option for farmers, businesses, organizations, and consumers. A large number of USDA programs contribute to this objective, ranging from those supporting market and distributional efficiencies to those educating consumers about safe food storage. Selected new and ongoing activities directly contributing to the reduction of food loss and waste are listed below.
Learn about USDA's Food Waste Activities.