business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the Associated Press:

"The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level in seven months with the labor market seemingly resistant to the higher interest rates put in place to cool hiring.

"US applications for jobless claims fell by 13,000 to 216,000 for the week ending Sept. 2, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the lowest level since February.

"Jobless claim applications are seen as representative of the number of layoffs in a given week."

•  The Wall Street Journal this morning writes that "some numbers are bad because they mislead. Expiration dates on our food are worse: They’re downright destructive.

"Food experts broadly agree that the expiration dates on every box of crackers, can of beans and bag of apples waste money, squander perfectly good food, needlessly clog landfills, spew methane and contribute to climate change.

"Ah, but these food-safety regulations keep us safe, you might say. Yet in almost all cases, there is no regulation and the dates do nothing to keep us safe.

"Contrary to a common perception, 'those dates are not about safety, that’s not why they’re there, that’s not what they’re doing' says Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food safety and food science at Cornell University. 'For many foods, we could completely do away with it.'

"Although we call them expiration dates, most don’t actually claim anything is expiring or unsafe. Instead, the labels say 'fresh until,' 'display until,' 'best when used by,' 'better if used by,' 'sell by,' 'best by,' 'enjoy by,' 'best before' or - perhaps worst - provide a date with no explanation at all."

I think pretty much everyone in the food business would agree.  The question is, who is going to do something about it?  There's a lot of talk about food waste in America, and this seems to be one of the best ways to address it and have a significant impact.

•  WTAE reports that when a ban on free single use plastic bags takes effect in Pittsburgh on October 14, Giant Eagle will respond by eliminating them completely, offering both reusable bags and paper bags for sale.

"Importantly, per the city's legislation, Pittsburgh customers paying with forms of government funded food purchase assistance (SNAP, WIC etc.) will be exempt from the paper bag fee," Giant Eagle said in its statement.