NORTHERN IRISH FAMILIES URGED TO “FACE FREEZER FEARS” IN A BID TO TACKLE FOOD WASTE
To help kick start Food Safety Week (4th-10th July) in Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released new research about the misconceptions around freezing food safely and how these misconceptions are contributing to food waste in Northern Ireland.
The research identified a number of freezing ‘myths’ that are preventing people in Northern Ireland from using their freezers to make food go further. Below are some of the key findings:
MYTH: 42% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase.
TRUTH: Food is still safe to freeze right up to the ‘use by date’ rather than the date of purchase.
MYTH: 38% incorrectly said it is dangerous to re-freeze meat after it has been cooked.
TRUTH: You can safely cook defrosted meat and then re-freeze for use on another day. Simply defrost overnight in the fridge, use within 24 hours and cook until steaming hot.
MYTH: 40% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.
TRUTH: 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 put food in the freezer foods safely right up to the “use by” date.
Three quarters (75%) of people surveyed in Northern Ireland have thrown food away in the past month, with bread (49%), fruit (39%), vegetables (31%) and leftover meals (25%) topping the list. The most common reason given for throwing food away is that it is past its ‘use by’ day. 36% admit to throwing food away as they had bought too much and didn’t eat it and well over half (59%) say they feel guilty when they throw food away. The research also found that 95% of people in Northern Ireland say there are foods they would never freeze. However, despite the reasons given, they 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. The FSA has announced that it will be launching a review of the guidance provided to the food industry on date marking food. This will include reviewing whether the remit of the guidance should be expanded to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers.
Michael Jackson, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, said: “Every year, we throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink from our homes – that’s about six meals a week. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and it’s imperative that we educate people about how to freeze food safely.
“Our research shows that many of the fears people have about freezing food are unfounded. 31% of Northern Irish people said that more information about how to safely freeze food would help them to reduce their food waste.”
For more information on how to reduce waste and freeze food safely, visit www.food.gov.uk/useby or follow @FSAinNI #EatitCookitFreezeit on Twitter for tips and advice throughout Food Safety Week.