Prevent Waste


The most important first step in food recovery is reducing your waste in the first place.  There are several different strategies to reduce your waste from learning better food storage tips, understanding the myths of date labels, to analyzing and changing your daily purchases.

Table of Contents

Storage Tips
Myth of Date Labeling
Websites to Help Prevent Waste
Guides to Help Prevent Waste

Storage Tips

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Freezer Tips from Seattle Public Utilities

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More Freezer Tips from Seattle Public Utilities: Freezer Storage Guide


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Myth of Date Labeling 

“Best By” “Sell By” “Used By” “Best if Used By”

In 1970s there was a movement for federal safety food date labeling standards

  • This movement failed
  • Date labels fell back to the states who have many different standards
  • Decisions fell to food manufacturers like:
    • Which label to use
    • How to calculate the date
  • Manufacturers moved away from standards of safety base on science and health
  • And moved towards standards to protect “consumer experience, peak freshness, and brand integrity


  • We have an arbitrary date labeling system not based on science or health and different among many states
  • No one understands the system
  • About half the states, including DC, have laws preventing the donations of products past their date label, even though it may be good for several more weeks
  • Causes consumers to throw away food still good to buy more


  • ignore date labels!!!
  • Learn to understand signs when food is starting to become expired such as smell, look, or taste.
  • Compost food starting to turn bad

Adam Ruins Everything – What the Date Labels on Food Actually Mean


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Websites to Help Prevent Waste

Not sure if you should eat that? Visit this image-heavy website for quick, but science-based explanations for whether you should eat or say goodbye to food that doesn’t look quite as you expected.

With food-by-food storage tips, recipes and highly shareable images that bear out the consequences of wasted food, this site is a great resource.

EatByDate and StillTasty
These sites let you search by ingredient and provide information on typical shelf life for a wide variety of foods.

This website specializes in recipes and tips to make the most of all the food in your home.

Community Food Rescue
Great food recovery and safety pamphlets, videos and
educational resources in multiple languages


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Save the Food Campaign

  • National public service campaign to combat food waste developed by the Ad Council & the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • Lots of free and public posters, infographics and other resources

EPA’s Food: Too Good to Waste Toolkit

  • EPA toolkit and implementation guide aimed at communities to help reduce wasteful household food management practices

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Guides to Help Prevent Waste

Capital Area Food Bank Produce Guides

  • Guides provide storage advice, recommended uses, nutrition facts, etc. for many of the produce items CAFB distributes (In English & Spanish)

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