It’s Food Safety Week in the U.K. and to kick things off, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of a study that shows some people are taking big risks with the food they eat and prepare at home in an effort to save money.
Almost all of those surveyed, 97 percent, responded “yes” when asked if they believed their grocery bills had gone up significantly over the last three years. And about half, 47 percent, said they are trying to stretch their dollars, er, pounds, by making better use of leftovers. But some of them are taking things too far, and risking food poisoning with their frugality, according to the study.
For example, some of them are eating leftovers that should have been tossed and others are ignoring “use by” dates on food packaging. “Use by” dates are important because they are frequently used on chilled or ready-to-eat foods that can quickly become unsafe when their natural shelf-life is over, says the FSA.
Roughly one third of those surveyed said they were more likely to give things the sniff test rather than heed the “use by” date or honor safe leftover guidelines. Foods tainted with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella or E.coli won’t smell “off” but can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening illness. According to the FSA, good leftover guidelines are as follows:
- When storing leftovers in the fridge, cool them quickly, ideally within 90 minutes. Cover them, get them in the fridge and then eat them within two days.
- When freezing leftovers, cool them in the fridge first to keep temperature fluctuations in your freezer to a minimim. To eat them before their quality deteriorates, usetthem within three months.
- Defrost frozen leftovers properly. If you’re going to cook them right away, use a microwave. If not defrost them in the fridge overnight. Do not thaw them on the counter.
- Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze them.
- Cook leftovers until steaming