In my interview with Assemblymember Irwin, we discussed her proposed Assembly Bill 660 in California, and although we discussed it briefly, some who have used my website have expressed confusion with the bill. No worries because the expire esquire is here! Assembly Bill 660 or AB 660 for short was introduced into the California State Assembly on February 9, 2023 by Assemblymember Irwin and was co-authored by Senator Susan Rubio. The bill builds upon 2017 Assembly Bill 954, which required the Department of Food and Agriculture to encourage the use of “Best if used by” to denote freshness and “Use by” to denote food safety. As I have explained in my last two posts in “Food News,” the move to a more streamlined expiration date labeling system is a no-brainer considering that food expiration date ambiguity is estimated to cause 20% of all food waste according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, even after AB 954 was passed, a large amount of food companies still continue to use “Enjoy by” and “Expires on” in California. This is where AB 660 comes in. The bill instead proposes a requirement for food companies to use AB 954’s terminology and would thereby make using other types of expiration dates a crime except for formula, eggs, and pasteurized in-shell eggs. The eggs are exempt as it could cause confusion due to the Julian date system used in many states, which simply means that instead of using months, the days are counted from 001 to 365 throughout the Gregorian year.
When I last talked to Assemblymember Irwin, she noted that the last committee, the Senate Agriculture Committee, brought up opposition. Much of this opposition stems from the dairy industry where companies believe that dairy products should also be exempt from the bill. Assemblymember Irwin estimated that it could take up to a year to ratify, and most recently on August 17, 2023, the bill was amended and re-referred to the Committee on Agriculture; however, if the Farm Bill were to be passed at the federal level, the AB 660’s proposal would go into effect immediately. The Farm Bill is currently in the process of being re-authorized by Congress. Ultimately, the sooner AB 660 is ratified, the sooner we can move to a more sustainable world. You Californians can expedite this process by writing letters to your local legislature and to the Senate Agriculture Committee!
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Expiration_date_of_pills_-_Thai_calendar.JPG