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Grocery store that only sells expired goods aims to combat food waste

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 Do you ever buy "discount" produce at the grocery store, or do you throw everything out when it starts to turn or hits its "best before" date? (Bloomberg / Getty Images)The former head of Trader Joe's has announced plans to open up a new, first-of-its kind market exclusively selling food that is slightly past its "best before" date.

Called "The Daily Table," Doug Racuch's new project will be a hybrid grocery store and restaurant that sells prepared food, along with deeply discounted grocery goods.

It's the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities," he told NPR. "This is, to a large degree, either excess, overstocked, wholesome food that's thrown out by grocers, etc. ... at the end of the day because of the sell-by dates."

Rauch's announcement comes in the wake of a Harvard University report that found 40 % of food in the U.S. is needlessly tossed each year due to exaggerated sell-by dates.

Because date labels are not yet standardized in the U.S., Harvard researchers concluded that Americans may be unnecessarily contributing to $160 billion in annual food waste

"People think the use-by date means either the product is going to die or you're going to die if you eat it. And it's just not true. You can't tie shelf life to a date," said University of Minnesota food safety scientist Dr. Theodore Labuza to Reuters. "If the food looks rotten and smells bad, you should throw it away, but just because it's past the date on the package, it doesn't mean it's unsafe."

The 64-page-report garnered a great deal of attention in the American press last week, spurring Rauch to speak with NPR about the project.

 "If you have a product that says "sell by Sept. 1" or "Oct. 1" and, you know, it's Oct. 2, most customers don't realize you can eat that," said Rauch. "We're talking about taking and recovering food. Most of what we offer will be fruits and vegetables that have a use-by date on it that'll be several days out."

What's your take on expired food items? Do you ever buy "discount" produce at the grocery store, or do you throw everything out when it starts to turn or hits its "best before" date? Share your comments below.

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