MISCONCEPTIONS about how to freeze food safely are contributing to food waste in Wales and across the UK, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The research – released as part of Food Safety Week (Jul 4 – 10) – identified a number of freezing ‘myths’ that are preventing people in Wales from using their freezers to make food go further. 37% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 34% incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 39% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.
Three quarters (75%) of people surveyed in Wales have thrown food away in the past month, with bread (46%), fruit (39%), vegetables (34%) and leftover meals (25%) topping the list. The most common reason given by respondents in Wales for throwing food away is that they had bought too much of it, cited by 34% of people. 31% admit to throwing food away because it was past its ‘use by’ date, and over half (56%) say they feel guilty when they throw food away. However, the reasons given can all be avoided by making better use of the freezer.
In response, the FSA is focusing this year’s Food Safety Week on helping people to understand how to waste less food safely by making more of their freezers. Furthermore, the FSA, working with Defra and WRAP, has announced that it will be launching a review of the guidance provided to the food industry on date marking on food. This will include consideration for whether the remit of the guidance should be expanded to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers.
The research also found that 93% of people in Wales say there are foods they would never freeze. A quarter (25%) of those surveyed in Wales would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 78% of these people saying this is down to worries about food poisoning.
Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said:
“Every year, we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and a better understanding of how to freeze food safely could go a significant way towards tackling the problem.
“Our research shows that many of the fears the public has about freezing food are unfounded and we need to ensure they know the facts. 33% of the people we spoke to in Wales said that more information about how to safely freeze food would help them to reduce their food waste – that’s why freezing is the focus of this year’s Food Safety Week.
“The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods right up to the ‘use by’ date. While food is kept safe in the freezer, it’s the quality that deteriorates over time, so we recommend eating it within three to six months and checking for any freezing instructions on the packaging. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so defrost food as and when you need it and eat it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.”
Helen White, food waste expert at Love Food Hate Waste, said:
“In the UK each household wastes the equivalent of about six meals a week, which is bad for our pockets and the planet! Reducing food waste is a big challenge, so the Love Food Hate Waste campaign is delighted to lend its support to Food Safety Week, which aims to raise awareness of this important issue. Freezing food is one of the little things we can all do to make a big difference and the best bit is that most foods can be frozen – even those you wouldn’t expect! For more fantastic freezer facts, visit wales.lovefoodhatewaste.com or hoffibwydcasaugwastraff.com.”
Top 10 tips to help reduce food waste
1) Know the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates
“Use by” dates are the most important ones to consider, as these relate to food safety. Most foods can be frozen safely up until the “use by” date, but not after.
“Best before” dates are about quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.
2) Don’t trust the sniff test!
Food can look and smell fine even after its use-by date, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat. It could still be contaminated. You cannot see, smell or taste the bugs that cause food poisoning.
3) How long can I freeze things for and what about the Use by date?
Foods can be stored safely in a correctly functioning freezer for years without going off. The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods safely right up to the “use by” date. Whilst food is kept safe in the freezer, it’s the quality that deteriorates over time, so we recommend consumption within three to six months to ensure the best quality, and check for any freezing instructions on the packaging.
Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so it’s best to defrost food as required and eat within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.
4) When should I freeze food?
Many people believe food can only be frozen on the day of purchase – as often recommended by retailers to preserve the quality of the food. However, you can safely freeze most foods right up to the “use by” date. Although it would be good to freeze the food as soon as you know you aren’t going to use it before its “use by” date expires.
5) Did you know that you can safely freeze raw and cooked meats?
You can cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze for use on another day. Simply defrost overnight in the fridge (be careful that raw meat doesn’t drip on any other foods in the fridge and check it is thoroughly defrosted), use within 24 hours and cook until steaming hot.
6) How long can you freeze meat for?
Generally you can freeze meat for a long time and it will still be safe to eat, but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat it within three to six months to ensure it’s of the best quality. Don’t worry if it’s frozen for longer – try marinating it before cooking to improve texture or use herbs and spices to add flavour.
7) Make the most of multi buys
If you are taking advantage of multi buys or larger pack sizes (e.g chicken breasts) you can freeze them individually in smaller bags to avoid having to eat them all at once. You can also cook enough for two (or more!) meals and eat one and freeze some for later – this avoids waste and minimises the effort of cooking.
8) Batching cooking
Batch cooking, cooking new meals from leftovers and freezing of homemade foods, can be a great way of saving money (and time) and using up foods approaching their Use By date as well as reducing waste.
9) Wrap up
It is best to place food in an air tight container or wrap food well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before placing in the freezer otherwise the cold air will dry it out. Try to expel any air from freezer bags.
Try and get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Use up foods that are approaching their Use by date and other fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk first as these can go off over time.
Police appeal following Aberystwyth RTC
POLICE are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 6.20pm on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.
A silver MG ZT, which had been reported as stolen, collided with another vehicle in Rhydybont, Aberystwyth.
The occupants of the MG walked away in the direction of Min Y Ddol.
Police would like to speak to the man in the image as he may have information that could assist the police investigation.
Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”
Family pay tribute to Aberporth man
THE FAMILY of Phillip Rasmussen, from Aberporth, who tragically died in Spain on April 1, have paid tribute to the 47-year-old.
They said: “We are devastated by the loss of Phillip, and he will be dearly missed by us all.
“Phillip was a loving husband to Elissa and father to Rhys, Beci and Dylan.
“He lived life to the full and will be remembered for his energy and passion towards all aspects of life. He was a keen sailor, cyclist and loved to travel.
“He began his professional career as a chartered accountant and spent the last ten years working as Chief Financial Officer for IQE plc, a role which he truly loved and made his own.
“We would like to thank everyone for their support at this difficult time. It has meant so much to the whole family.
“We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so.”
Big Welsh Walk aims to tackle loneliness and isolation
THE BIG WELSH WALK takes place in June to promote the benefits of walking groups; reducing loneliness and isolation, as well as improving fitness and general wellbeing.
Starting in Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion on Saturday (Jun 2) there are four walks to choose from, ranging from 6 to 20 miles. Participants can challenge themselves through the stunning landscapes, highlighting breath taking scenery along the way.
Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives. For many people, especially the older generation, this isn’t a fleeting experience, but one that can define and shatter your life. The need for action is increasingly understood and Ramblers Cymru is working hard to combat this through leading local walking groups.
Within in the UK, research shows that more than 9 million people always or often feel lonely, that around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month and up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely.
With around 20 million adults also failing to meet UK government recommendations for physical activity, walking is the obvious answer to help combat loneliness and isolation whilst also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ramblers Cymru is working to change this by encouraging people to join their local walking group.
Local resident of Ceredigion, Dwynwen Belsey, walks with Aberystwyth Ramblers each week. She said: “It’s well-established that walking is good for you, but it also helps people develop social skills, and build confidence too.
“Life has its ups and downs and walking helps because it has a therapeutic effect,” explains Dwynwen. “The difference walking with the group has made to me, is fantastic. I have the confidence to volunteer through leading walks and helping maintain the public footpaths so that more people can enjoy the benefits of walking”.
Director of Ramblers Cymru, Angela Charlton, said: “It’s inspiring to hear about groups like Aberystwyth Ramblers and the fantastic work they are doing locally to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Ceredigion. Loneliness and isolation is becoming a real issue people from all walks of life in Wales are faced with. Our vision in Ramblers Cymru is to work towards combatting this and ensuring we encourage people to use group walking as a way to a healthier lifestyles, mentally and physically”.
You can find out more about the local walks led by Ramblers Cymru by visiting www.ramblers.org.uk/wales and to join the Big Welsh Walk www.ramblers.org.uk/bigwelshwalk
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