On this side of the Atlantic, U.S. regulators could clear up confusion over date labeling, Gunders said. The "use by" and "sell by" dates are not federally regulated in this country, except for poultry and infant formula, and they often reflect when the product passes its peak quality rather than the product's safety, she said.
As a result, consumers end up tossing food that's safe to eat.
And they're not proud of it, according to a survey released this month by Shelton Group, an advertising agency. Of the 1,000 people polled by the group, 39 percent rated wasting food as their top "green guilt" — the highest ranking, well ahead of leaving the lights on when they leave the room (27 percent) or not recycling (21 percent.)
Suzanne Shelton, the group's founder, said people have the best of intentions when they fill their grocery baskets with meats and fresh produce. But life gets in the way. "We get swamped at work, or have to get our kids to various activities and we find ourselves picking up a pizza on the way home," Shelton said in a statement. "By the end of the week, we're throwing out the spoiled food from our refrigerators."