Table to Table and the City of Iowa City together have created the "Love Food, Fight Waste" program to empower and educate community members to reduce food waste in their daily lives. This program is free to participate in and will feature a new topic each month. 

Launching today on Stop Food Waste Day and through the month of May, the topic is: "Know Your Best By, Use By, & Sell By Dates."

A food item looks fine and smells fine, but is it safe to consume past the stamped date? If you have ever wondered this, you are not alone! 

Date stamps on food can vary in wording — “best by,” “use by,” “sell by,” — which can cause confusion. This may come as a surprise, but these dates are not based on food safety. 

The only food item where the date should be strictly followed is baby formula. Except for baby formula, most dates are indicators of best flavor and peak quality. So, use your judgment and senses, and use this month’s information as a guide. 

Learn more about this topic at

Why are we talking about food waste? 

When food is wasted, it wastes all the resources that went into growing, manufacturing, distributing, and transporting that food, too. That’s a whole lot of energy, water, and transportation miles wasted just for that food to end up uneaten. On a local level, landfilled food waste produces a strong greenhouse gas called methane, which contributes to climate change. One of the best things each of us can do to take climate action is reduce food waste in our daily lives.

Questions? Reach out to Jane Wilch, City of Iowa City Recycling Coordinator, at 319-887-6110 or, or Nicki Ross, Table to Table Executive Director, at 319-337-3400 or

Date of publication

Wednesday, April 27, 2022