Eat It, Cook It, Freeze It!
Food Safety Week 2016 takes place from Monday 4th until Sunday 10th July. This year the Food Standards Agency launches 'Eat It, Cook It, Freeze It!' which focuses on ways in which we can all waste less food, safely.
'Use By' versus 'Best Before'
There are 2 main reasons why we throw away good food; we buy or make too much food or, we don't use it in time. It is understandable why people can become confused about the difference between 'use by' and 'best before' dates. People don't always know what can be safely cooked or frozen. Sometimes people take unnecessary risks with their health and that of their loved ones in order to make food go further.
Make sure you know the difference:
Top 10 Tips
1. Know the difference between 'use by' and 'best before' dates
'Use By' dates are the most important date to consider as these relate to food safety. Most foods can be frozen up until the 'Use By' date, but not after.
'Best Before' dates are about quality, not safety. Food past it's 'Best Before' date doesn't mean that the food will be harmful , however it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.
2. Don’t trust the sniff test
Food can look and smell fine even after it's 'Use By' date, but it doesn't mean it's safe to it. You cannot see, smell or taste bugs that cause food poisoning.
3. How long can I freeze things for?
Foods can be stored for years in a functioning freezer without going off.
The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze foods right up to the 'use by' date. Whilst food is kept safe in the freezer, it's the quality that deteriorates over time, so we recommend consumption within 3-6 months and check for any freezing instructions on the packaging.
Once defrosted, the pause button is off, so it's best to defrost food as required and eat within 24 hours.
4. When should I freeze food?
Many people believe food can only be frozen on the day of purchase, however, you can safely freeze food right up to the 'use by' date.
5. Did you know you can safely freeze raw and cooked meats?
You can cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze for use on another day. Simply defrost overnight in the fridge, check it is defrosted properly, use within 24 hours and cook until steaming hot.
6. How long can you freeze meat for?
Generally you can freeze meat for a long time and it will be safe to eat, but the quality will deteriorate so it's best to eat it within 3-6 months.
7. Make the most of multi buys
You can buy large packets of meat (for example chicken breasts) and freeze them individually in smaller bags. You can also cook enough for two (or more!) and eat one and freeze some for later.
8. Batch cooking
Cooking new meals from leftovers and freezing homemade foods can be a great way of saving money (and time) and using up foods approaching their 'Use By' date.
9. Wrap Up
It is best to place food in an air tight container or wrap food well in foil, freezer wrap or cling film before placing in the freezer, otherwise the cold air will dry it out. Try to expel any air from freezer bags.
Try and get into the habit of checking what you already have in the fridge and freezer before you go shopping. Use up foods that are approaching their 'Use By' date and other fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish or milk first as these can go off over time.
Further information and downloads
Download the Food Standards Agency's Infographic on Use By vs Best Before - Know the Difference!
For more information and advice make sure to follow both @BlabyDC and @foodgov on Twitter during Food Safety week 4 to 10 July 2016 and look out for the hashtags #EatItCookItFreezeIt and #FSW2016. Alternatively, you can visit the Food Standards Agency's website.