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Feeding America
Finding and highlighting instances of waste is one of a watchdog’s most important jobs. Sometimes, however, discovering and publicizing a lack of waste is even more deserving of recognition.

Consumers Reports, a publication of Consumers Union, recently investigated what happens to groceries that have passed their expiration date. Instead of waste, "Consumer Reports found that many retailers and manufacturers donate expiring goods that aren't spoiled to hunger-relief charities and others donate directly to local groups. These goods are usually fine for people to eat because many date codes on products indicate when an item is apt to be fresh and flavorful rather than unfit for consumption."

The NGO also found that most "grocery chains and major food manufacturers work with Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief charity in the U.S. The organization also works with the agricultural industry to collect items that aren't suitable for retail sale but are still suitable for consumption. It distributes more than 2 billion pounds of donated groceries per year to 200 food banks...." Moreover, "the organization asks supermarkets to freeze fresh meat shortly before its sell-by-date, which provides an extra 60 to 90 days to distribute the food."

An important legal change that has enhanced Feeding America’s capabilities is the "Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed in 1996, which shields companies from liability as long as the food was donated in good faith." CU notes that before the law was passed, "supermarkets were reluctant to donate perishables because executives worried about lawsuits stemming from the consumption of bad food, even if spoilage occurred after the products left the store."

At a time when an increasing number of families are finding it difficult to meet basic needs, its good to see diverse organizations working to help with Feeding America.

See Consumers Reports press release

See Feeding America website

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