A box of mac-and-cheese stamped with a “use by” date of March 2013 can still be enjoyed on March 2014, most likely with no noticeable changes in quality. “We are fine with there being quality or freshness dates as long as it is clearly communicated to consumers, and they are educated about what that means,” says study co- author Emily Broad Leib, the director of Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic. “There should be a standard date and wording that is used. This is about quality, not safety. You can make your own decision about whether a food still has an edible quality that’s acceptable to you.” TIME.com: Is it worth it to buy organic? Because food dating was never about public health, there is no national regulation over the use of the dates, although the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture technically have regulatory power over the misbranding of products. The only federally required and regulated food dating involves infant formula, since the nutrients in formula lose their potency as time goes on. What regulation does exist occurs at the state level and all but nine states in the United States have food dating rules but these vary widely. “What’s resulted from [the FDA letting states come up with regulation] is really a patchwork of all sorts of different rules for different products and regulations around them,” says study co-author Dana Gunders, a staff scientist with the NRDC’s food and agriculture program. “Sometimes a product needs a date, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a product cannot be sold after a different date. Or there is no requirement at all. Even with different categories there is so much variability.” The result is a confused public and tons of wasted food. TIME.com: Illnesses from imported foods are on the rise Correcting these entrenched misconceptions, however, won’t be easy.

Food Stamp Cuts Could Have Major Impact In Florida

Carolyn Kaster/AP Enlarge WASHINGTON Farm-state lawmakers hoping for passage of a farm bill by the end of the year will have to bridge a deep divide between the House and the Senate over the role of the government in helping the nation’s poor. The Christian Science Monitor Weekly Digital Edition The House passed a bill Thursday that would make around $4 billion incutsannually to the almost $80 billion-a-yearfoodstampprogram and allow states to put in place broad new work requirements for recipients. A Senate-passed farm bill would make around a tenth of the amount of thosecuts, or $400 million a year. “This bill is designed to give people a hand when they need it most,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on the House floor just before lawmakers passed the bill. He said the legislation “will put people on the path to self-sufficiency and independence.” The White House threatened a veto, and Senate Democrats angrily criticized the level ofcuts. “The Senate will never pass such hateful, punitive legislation,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. For decades, Congress has combined farm programs withfoodstampsto garner urban votes for the rural measure. Butfoodstampshave complicated the process this year as House conservatives have called forcuts. The cost of thefoodstampprogram, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has more than doubled since the Great Recession deepened in 2008. More than 47 million Americans, or 1 in 7, are using the program. The Senate passed a bill including bothfoodstampsand farm programs in June. Later that month, the House defeated a farm bill that included both thefoodand farm programs after conservatives said itsfoodstampcuts around $2 billion a year weren’t high enough.

Food expired? Don’t be so quick to toss it

A customer scans the expiration date on gallons of milk sitting at a Safeway grocery store in Washington.

In Florida, that means over 400,000 could lose food assistance , according to 2011 figures compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Policies. The work requirement is troublesome in Florida where high unemployment plagues the state even four years after the recession officially ended. ” Food stamp eligibility is more closely linked to the absence of income than the absence of a job ,” Patrick Mason, a labor economist at Florida State University, told the Tampa Tribune. “‘Employed’ doesn’t mean ‘full-time job.’ ‘Employed’ does not equal ‘job with above-poverty wages.’ ” Statistics also show that Florida had the second highest increase in food stamps from 2008 to 2013, when the amount of those eligible doubled from 1,505,590 to 3,568,672 . Read the requirements for Florida food assistance here . Meanwhile food stamps are not enough to keep up with the basic nutrition needs of the state’s struggling families. Also on HuffPost: Loading Slideshow Almost one in four of the state’s children lives below the federal poverty line — and the rate is going up. Studies show an increase of 35%, with 235,000 more children living in poverty in 2010 than four years earlier. (Source: Voices For Florida) Florida’s poverty rate for children under 5 years of age is a whopping 26.9%. (Source: CWLA) Almost half of Florida’s children who needed mental health care did not receive it. (Source: Voices For Florida) 2009 data shows that 21% of Florida’s children are poor, but almost half of all the state’s children (46% or 1.8 million children) live in low income families. (Source: Voices For Florida) In 2009, more than 19,000 babies were born in Florida weighing less than 2,500 grams. (Source: CWLA) In 2010, 180 Florida children died as a result of neglect or abuse. (Source: CWLA) Estimates are that at any given time at At All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, there are at least 10 newborns being treated for prescription drug withdrawal. (Source: Attorney General’s Office) The annual from the Annie E.