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FSA tackles misconceptions on how to freeze food safely

4 July 2016  •  Author(s): Victoria White, Digital Content Producer

New research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveals that misconceptions about how to freeze food safely are contributing to food waste.

freeze food

The research identified a number of freezing ‘myths’ that are preventing people from using their freezers to make food go further. In a survey, 43% of those interviewed think that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe; 38% incorrectly said it is dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked; and 36% wrongly believe that food can become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.

Over two thirds 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, cited by over a third of respondents. Over half of the survey respondents say they feel guilty when they throw food away.

The research also found that 90% of people say there are foods they would never freeze. Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of these people saying this is down to worries about food poisoning.

Food Safety Week focusing on making more use of freezers

In response to the research, 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 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.

Commenting on the research, 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.”

Wearne added: “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.”

For more information on how to reduce waste and freeze food safely, visit www.food.gov.uk/useby.

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