Food Safety Week 2012
Did you know that 11 to 17 June 2012 is Food Safety Week and as part of the campaign, Ceredigion County Council is promoting 'Food Safety on a Budget'.
No one likes to see good food go to waste, yet every year in the UK we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink that is still safe to eat. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) estimates that the average family waste £50 of good food every month.
However, new research published by the FSA today also shows that more people are taking risk with food safety as they try to save money and make their food go further. There are over a million cases of food poisoning each year causing 20,000 hospitalisations and 500 deaths. This costs the economy £1.5 billion each year.
Ceredigion's Public Health Protection team urges everyone this week to focus on the safe use of leftovers and to improve their understanding and adherence to 'use by' dates, which should make their budget go further.
Understanding 'use by' and 'best before' dates
· 'Use by' dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though it might look and smell fine.
· Check the 'use by' dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its 'use by' to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily.
· You can freeze food anytime up until the 'use by' date. Check the packaging to make sure it's suitable for freezing.
· Once food with a 'use by' date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as 'eat within 3 days of opening', but not if the use by date is tomorrow.
· 'Best before' dates appear on food with a longer shelf life. They show how long the food will be at its best quality. Using food after the 'best before' doesn't mean it will be unsafe. The exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their 'best before' date.
Use leftovers safely
Eating leftovers can be a good way of making food go further.
· If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes) cover them and eat them within two days.
· If you are going to freeze them, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once foods are in the freezer, they can be safely stored for a considerable time – but the quality will deteriorate so it's best to eat them within three months.
· Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge overnight, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway.
· Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, once it's cooked it can be refrozen.
· Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
· Don't reheat leftovers more than once.
Plan your meals
· Before you go shopping check what's in the fridge and freezer.
· Think about what you are going to eat that week, plan your meals and write it down.
· Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! Impulse buys can be expensive and, if not part of your plans, could lead to something else being wasted.
· If you do get tempted by special offers in the shop, like 'buy one get one free', think about adjusting your meal planner for the week to add it in, or freeze the extra pack before the 'use by' date ensuring that it is possible to freeze the food. Or you could cook larger portions and save some for another time.
· Label food and date it before it goes in the freezer, so you know what it is and how long it's been there.
For more information go to the Food Standards Agency website: www.food.gov.uk
You can also find the Food Standards Agency on Facebook or follow on Twitter @foodgov #FSW2012