Every single year Americans waste billions of dollars of food, because consumers do not fully understand food labeling.
"There is a lot of confusion because we have sell by date, use by date and expiration dates," said Jessica Morath, Nutrition Services Director and Registered Dietician at the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank. So for a consumer, what does that really mean?"
Morath explains the common cause why people waste food.
"Often times food can go to waste, because we are concerned about food and that's a valid concern,but may throw it away," said Morath.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service says America wasted 133 billion pounds of food.
Morath said that's a hard number to swallow, when its food bank which services 12-counties in the Wichita Falls area still has a food gap after serving 3.5 million pounds of food in 2013.
So what do consumers need to know about date labels on food?
The sell by date is used by retailers to them when they should take a product off the shelves. However, it doesn't mean the food is no longer safe to eat.
Morath said for best practices use your senses to judge.
"Use your eyes. Use your nose. If it smells funny, look funny, it's best to go ahead and toss it."
Morath said handling your food also makes a difference. She said just because the date says its good doesn't mean it is. you as a consumer must make sure you follow proper to ensure its freshness.
"Making sure its suppose to be refrigerator at 40 degrees or less and if its in the freezer at zero degrees or less."
Newshannel 6 asked some Texomans how they go about food labels.
Andy Fuentez, a Wichita Falls resident was shopping with his wife at Market Street.
"Usually I just read them and go by with they say," said Fuentez, a Wichita Falls resident, shopping with his wife. Fuentez said they try not to waste food as much as possible. One reason he said they visit the grocery store multiple times a week.
"Most of the time we just get food as we need it. We really try not to stock pile too much. That way it doesn't go to waste. There is nothing worst than stale food. I hate to throw things away," said Fuentez.
Jaye Spruiell, a Iowa Park resident said she's a stickler when it comes to dates.
"Things may sit in my refrigerator, but when I get ready to use it I will look at the date on it to see if its good," said Spruiell.