Preventing Food Waste

Food waste from house­holds represents about 44% of all food waste generated in the U.S. It is estimated that 20 pounds of food is wasted per person per month. By reducing food waste through buying appro­priate quantities, storing foods properly, cooking what is needed and composting, consumers can save money and reduce the amount of food going to landfills. The guidelines recommended in The Food Keeper can help consumers use food while at peak quality and reduce waste.


  • Shop for shelf-stable foods (those that are in boxes and cans) first. Place refrigerated or frozen items in the cart last, immediately before checking out.
  • Do not choose meat, fish, poultry or dairy products that feel warm to the touch or have a damaged or torn package. To prevent leaking, wrap the package in a plastic bag.
  • Buy only pasteurized dairy products.
  • Choose only refrigerated eggs and make sure that they are not cracked or dirty.
  • Check the “Sell-by,” “Use-by,” or “Best if used by” dates on food packages.
  • Buy intact cans that are not rusted, bulging, leaking or dented on the seam or rim.
  • Once you purchase food, take it directly home within two hours or within one hour if temperatures are above 90°F. If this is not possible, keep a cooler with freezer gels in the car to transport cold, perishable items. Immediately put perishables into the refrigerator or freezer.

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