"Imagine this: You go to your favorite supermarket and come out with three bags full of groceries. Before you get in your car, you toss one of those bags in the garbage. Sound ridiculous? Of course it does, but that's in essence what food waste looks like every day across our country," says Frank Yiannas, the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response in an article Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods?
By moving to a "Manufactured On" date ("MFG" on the package) from the prior "Expiration Date," Food Fur Life's manufacturer is responding to the FDA's Winning on Food Waste Initiative. Reports on food waste in the United States present clear - and alarming - data on the amount of food waste each year in the U.S:
20% of Food Waste at the Consumer Level is Due to Confusion about Date Labeling
The FDA does not require nor regulate date labeling on packaged foods (other than infant formula). 41 states and Washington DC require some date labels - but there is no consistency nor coordination among states. There is no standardization of terms, no industry-wide definitions, no regulated or standardized method of determining what date should be used, how it is determined, and just what, exactly, the date is. Manufacturers are left to determine these dates with no guidelines nor date definitions. In fact, the dates on packaged and frozen foods were never meant to convey safety, rather "peak" freshness. Surprised? Most are!
Due to a lack of information about the intent of these dates, most of us throw away perfectly good food. More than 80% of Americans are under the misconception these dates on packaged and frozen foods are related to health consequences of consuming the product. Not so.
From the USDA's Before You Toss Food, Wait. Check it out!
"Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months (recommended freezer times chart) may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor.
"What about the foods in your pantry? Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the ‘best by’ date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor. You’ll know when you open the package if the food has lost quality. Many [most] dates on foods refer to quality, not safety. See FSIS’ Shelf-Stable Food Safety fact sheet for more information."
Thus, in-line with the goal of reducing food waste, our manufacturer has moved to simple date labeling by providing the manufacturing date. Given the prior "expiration" date was quite random and had nothing to do with "freshness" or nutrient life, we're happy to support this move and participate in the effort to reduce food loss and waste, an effort clearly needed.
So How Long Does the Nutrition Remain Intact?
Freeze-drying in particular makes foods incredibly shelf-stable, and freshness / nutrient retention is related to the quality of packaging and storage conditions. You can't beat cans (thus 25 year freeze dried cooked ham and chicken exist), but if in packing that minimizes oxidation, and the package properly sealed and stored long term in a cool, dry place, freeze dried foods remain fresh for years. With double-walled, BPA-free, food grade mylar with an aluminum core, the longevity studies conducted *on our products with our packaging* found our premixes remain nutritionally intact for the life of the shortest-dated product in them: the green lipped mussels, that are dated three years by the producer. It is between the third and fourth years the efficacy of the omega 3 begins to degrade. This does not impact consumption from a safety standpoint, but a nutritional standpoint. The EZComplete Premixes can be fed for at least three years from the date of manufacture with confidence your pets are getting the nutrition they need to thrive.
It is our hope this move to a manufacturing date on Food Fur Life packaging is educational for all of us feeding EZComplete or using the EZ Egg Yolk. For those of us that thought these dates were related to safety, it is our sincere hope that now better informed, we can all take a new approach to using instead of removing what's in our cupboard or freezer, reducing food waste at home.