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.
Gwynedd Council’s Food Safety 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.
So how do we stretch our food budget but produce safe, tasty food? One way to do this is by planning ahead - don’t just make a shopping list – plan your meals. Check your fridge before you shop so that you don’t buy things you don’t need. When shopping, check “use by” dates to make sure you will use the food in time. Don’t buy more that you need. Will you use the three for two offers that are so tempting?
Think if you can freeze any extra food that you purchase. Using leftover food is a good way of making meals go further. However, unless we’re careful, there’s a chance we can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling the food properly. Remember to cool leftovers as quickly as possible, cover and refrigerate. Use leftovers within two days and reheat until steaming hot. Only reheat leftovers once.
Make “your fridge your friend” and ensure your fridge is operating at the correct temperature, it should be below 5oC. Check your fridge regularly to see when food must be eaten. You can also freeze your leftovers, but cool them first to minimise temperature fluctuation in your freezer. Defrost safely and cook within 24 hours of defrosting.
Ffion Hewson, Gwynedd Council’s Public Protection Manager said: “We need to find a balance between eating on a budget and ensuring that the food is not going to make us ill, so I urge you to always eat food within the “use by” date. If you think you won’t eat the food within this date check the packaging as you may be able to freeze it for use later, instead of allowing food to go to waste.”
More details will be on Facebook – find us on CyngorGwyneddCouncil or on Twitter - @CyngorGwynedd during Food Safety Week.