Freeze food, rather than throw it away – that is Croydon Council’s message for Food Safety Week (4 to 10 July).
The food safety team is urging residents to make smarter use of their home freezers to safely waste less food – and to help the family budget.
New research from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that 68% of UK adults report that they have thrown food away in the past month.
More than a third (36%) of those who had thrown away food said they did so as it was past its use-by date. Other top reasons for throwing food away include buying too much and not eating it, which was reported by 30% of people; and not having the chance to eat food before it went off, which almost a quarter (23%) gave as an excuse for putting food in the bin.
This contributes to the seven million tonnes of food that is wasted in the UK each year which, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, costs each household around £470 annually.
The council is backing the FSA’s campaign to encourage residents to help tackle the problem of food waste by planning ahead and, if necessary, to freeze food within its use-by date if there is a chance you could throw it away once the use-by date expires.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Lots of people think food can be frozen only on the day of purchase, but the freezer is like a pause button and you can safely freeze most foods right up to the use-by date.
“You can even cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze it to eat on another day. With so much food being thrown away in the UK each year, we’re encouraging residents to think about how they can use their freezers more, rather than putting food in the bin.
“While food is kept safe in the freezer, it’s the quality that deteriorates over time, so it’s recommended to eat it within three to six months, and check for any freezing instructions on the packaging. Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so thaw food as and when you need it and eat it within 24 hours of it being fully defrosted.”
Kevin Hargin, head of foodborne disease control 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 toward 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 – 31% of the people we spoke to 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.”
For more information on freezing food safely, visit www.food.gov.uk/useby or follow @foodgov #EatitCookitFreezeit on Twitter for tips and advice throughout Food Safety Week.