Consumers urged to face freezer fears in bid to tackle waste
Home freezers have been common for decades, but it seems many people still have misconceptions about how to freeze food safely. The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has undertaken a study into freezer usage - with results released as part of Food Safety Week (04-10Jul16) - in which a number of freezing "myths" were identified.
The agency said that 43 per cent of those interviewed thought food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38 per cent incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36 per cent wrongly believed that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer. Steve Wearne, FSA policy director, said that each year over seven million tonnes of food and drink are discarded from our homes.
"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," he said in a statement. "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."
Furthermore, over two thirds (68 per cent) of the people surveyed have thrown food away in the past month, with bread, fruit, vegetables and leftover meals topping the list. The most common reason given for throwing food away is that it is past its "use by" day, as cited by over a third (36 per cent) of respondents. And 30 per cent admitted to throwing food away as they had bought too much and didn’t eat it, and over half (54 per cent) said they felt guilty when they throw food away.
Helen White, food waste expert at Love Food Hate Waste, said that all the reasons given can all be avoided by making better use of the freezer.
"In the U.K. each household wastes the equivalent of about six meals a week, which is bad for our pockets and the planet! 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," she said.
The FSA has announced it will be launching a review of the guidance provided to the food industry on date marking on food.