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The Ohio State University is out with a study saying that "even though American consumers throw away about 80 billion pounds of food a year, only about half are aware that food waste is a problem."

The study "found that 53 percent of respondents said they were aware that food waste is a problem. This is about 10 percent higher than a Johns Hopkins study published last year, which study co-author Brian Roe suggests means that "awareness of the problem could be growing.

"“But it’s still amazingly low,” Roe says. “If we can increase awareness of the problem, consumers are more likely to increase purposeful action to reduce food waste. You don’t change your behavior if you don’t realize there’s a problem in the first place.”

The study established some of the main reasons for food waste. First, "68 percent of respondents believe that throwing away food after the package date has passed reduces the chance of foodborne illness, and 59 percent believe some food waste is necessary to be sure meals are fresh and flavorful." In addition, "51 percent said they believe it would be difficult to reduce household food waste and 42 percent say they don’t have enough time to worry about it. Still, 53 percent admit they waste more food when they buy in bulk or purchase large quantities during sales. At the same time, 87 percent think they waste less food than similar households."

However, while "77 percent feel a general sense of guilt when throwing away food," at the same time, "only 58 percent indicated they understand that throwing away food is bad for the environment, and only 42 percent believe wasted food is a major source of wasted money."

The study recommends getting rid of "sell by" and "use by" dates from food packaging, saying that "only in rare circumstances is that date about food safety." And, it calls for creating greater awareness by improving the collection of data in the area.
KC's View:
It does seem like there is a growing awareness of the food waste issue at a lot of levels, though I have to admit I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of completely getting rid of "sell by" and "use by" dates. I'd like to see some greater uniformity, but I have to think they have some purpose.