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

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 8.17.32 PM  Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 8.17.43 PM

Freezer Tips from Seattle Public Utilities

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 8.22.34 PM.png

More Freezer Tips from Seattle Public Utilities: Freezer Storage Guide


Back to Top

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


Back to Top

Websites to Help Prevent Waste

Eat of Toss?
This website helps people understand what food is still good

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

Site w/ Recipes for Leftovers

Food Wise

Big Oven

Back to Top


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 Food to Good to Waste

  • EPA program to teach local community groups how to reduce food waste

Back to Top

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)

Back to Top