Canada needs to standardize dates and terms, Philippe suggested. That's already taking place in Europe and the United States, where labels are beginning to say "use by," "freeze by," or "tastes best by" to address safety and quality.
The report makes other recommendations.
It says governments should harmonize rules on food donations and food waste in landfills. Processors and retailers, where another 30% of waste takes place, need better inventory control, it adds.
Packaging smaller servings for smaller households would help. So would avoiding consumption-based marketing such as two-for-one sales.
Retailers can market visually imperfect food at a discount. Unused food can be turned into other items. A British company, for example, brews beer from stale bread.
Business is behind the effort, said Cher Mereweather of Provisions Canada, an association of industry groups that participated in the council's study.
"If we're wasting product, then that drives down our profitability. There's also the environmental impacts. Then on the social side, if we have more food available to feed the growing population, that's a good thing," she said.
The federal government has promised to cut food waste in half by 2030 and is writing a national food policy that will also tackle waste.
Philippe said her group would soon begin a national campaign to get people thinking about how to waste less of what they eat. But she knows change will take time.
"This issue is huge. It's global. It affects huge supply chains."