Households could save £480 a year by reducing food waste

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NEW research for this year’s Food Safety Week reveals that shoppers in Newtownabbey could save around £480 a year per household by cutting down on the amount of food they waste. The savings could be made simply through better planning when food shopping and better use of food labels.

While almost one in four consumers now use leftover food more than they used to, recent research has also found more than a third of Northern Ireland shoppers believe ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates on food labels mean the same thing.

For this year’s Food Safety Week (June 11 - 17), safefood, the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA), the Department of the Environment’s ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign and local councils are highlighting the importance of good food safety in the home which can help people stay safe, save money and reduce food waste. This can be done by planning ahead, checking ‘use by’ dates and using leftovers.

Dr David McCleery, safefood, explains: “Knowing the difference between ‘best before’ and ’use by’ dates on food labels can give consumers the confidence that they are staying safe from food poisoning while cutting down on the amount of food they throw out unnecessarily. Use by dates are displayed on perishable foods that go off quickly and it can be dangerous to eat food past this date, so always check them first; these foods should also be stored correctly, typically in the fridge at less than 5ºC. Best before dates appear on foods with a longer shelf life and give an indication of quality - eating foods after their best before date doesn’t mean they’re unsafe but that their quality may reduce over time. But as with any food, if in doubt, throw it out!”

Kathryn Baker, Food Standards Agency, continues: “Food Safety Week is a great opportunity to highlight practical ways people can safely make their foods go further and save themselves some money in the process; cooked leftovers can be safely frozen for future use while raw foods from the freezer can be defrosted, cooked thoroughly and then frozen again one further time. By following some simple steps such as cooling leftovers as quickly as possible, covering and storing them in the fridge for no more than two to three days (one day for leftover rice) and reheating them until they are steaming hot, people can also reduce the risk of food poisoning in the home. Our campaign includes great recipe tips for using leftovers which can help reduce food waste too.”

For more information about the campaign log on to www.ni.lovefoodhatewaste.com