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So Broad Leib and her colleagues are recommending these labels as the best choices to indicate food quality and food safety, respectively, with the least amount of confusion.

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This is a source of confusion for the American public, it turns out.

The Harvard survey found that more than a third of respondents believed date labels are federally regulated, and another quarter of them weren’t sure.

In addition to the amount of land and water required to produce all the food that’s never even used, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that the carbon footprint associated with wasted food worldwide each year is more than 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The FAO reported that about 1.6 billion tons of food go to waste globally each year, thanks to a variety of reasons at points all along the supply chain. S., research has suggested that as much as 40 percent of the nation’s food supply may end up wasted.

For other products where safety is not a concern, any dates included by the manufacturer would require the language “best if used by,” which the research shows is most likely to be taken as an indicator of quality, rather than safety.