SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura passed a measure through the Senate that would promote standardization on food labels to reduce food waste across the state.

“As we see buying power decrease due to inflation and grocery bills increase, we need to think of alternatives to move away from the sniff and taste test to determine if food is safe to consume,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “By providing more guidance on food labels, we can reduce the amount of food ending up in the garbage and help feed more community members struggling to get by.”

House Bill 3849 would define "quality date," "safety date" and "sell by date" and require the Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Public Health to publish information to encourage food manufacturers, processors and retailers to voluntarily use uniform terms on food product labels to communicate quality and safety dates.

According to ReFED, a national nonprofit working in conjunction with Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic, a national food labeling standard could divert 582,000 tons of food waste per year and provide $2.41 billion in annual economic value. Illinois does not currently have any food labeling laws, however, if labeled, eggs cannot be sold past the label date.

“Not only will this legislation help with food waste, but it will also alleviate food insecurities in some communities,” said Ventura. “This will provide accurate information for consumers about their food and help clear up confusion surrounding expiration dates.”

Illinois would join states like California and Massachusetts in creating food label standardization.

House Bill 3849 passed the Senate on Wednesday.