People 'taking more food risks'

 
Fridge The number of cases of food poisoning peaks in the summer as germs grow at a quicker rate

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People are taking more risks with their food as finances become tighter, a Food Standards Agency survey suggests.

It said its research showed that people were trying to save money by making their food go further.

An FSA survey of nearly 2,000 people across the UK suggested more than half were trying to make better use of leftover food.

This included ignoring use-by dates, as well as keeping leftovers in the fridge for long periods of time.

Safety first

The number of cases of food poisoning peaks in the summer as the warmer weather means germs can grow at a quicker rate.

Food safety tips

Understand "use by" and "best before" date

  • "Use by" dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though it might look and smell fine. But if cooked or frozen its life can be extended beyond the 'use by' date
  • Using food after the "best before" doesn't mean it will be unsafe. Even eggs - providing they are cooked thoroughly - can be eaten a day or two after their "best before" date

Use leftovers safely

  • If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (within 90 minutes). Cover and eat within two days
  • If freezing leftovers, cool them first and use within 3 months

Source: Food Standards Agency

Bob Martin, a food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: "With most of us seeing our weekly shopping bills increase over the last few years, we are all looking for ways to get the most out of our shopping budget.

"Using leftover food is a good way of making our meals go further. However, unless we're careful, there's a chance we can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling them properly."

The FSA said a third of people were more likely to use the look and smell of food to see if it was safe to eat rather than the use-by date.

Mr Martin said: "It's tempting to just give your food a sniff to see if you think it's gone 'off', but food bugs like E.coli and Salmonella don't cause food to smell off, even when they may have grown to dangerous levels. So food could look and smell fine but still be harmful."

The FSA said leftovers should be put in the fridge as soon as possible and then eaten within two days and should be cooked until they are steaming hot.

Each year there are around 70,000 recorded cases of food poisoning in England and Wales.

There are many different causes, including not cooking food thoroughly, not storing food correctly that needs to be chilled, or someone who is ill or has unclean hands touching the food.

Thorough washing of hands before and after preparing food and appropriate storing, handling and cooking of food will minimise the risk.

Andrew Wilson of the British Dietetic Association said: "Use by dates on food are there to protect consumers from harmful bacteria that might grow in food- even if it looks and smells ok, it could be harbouring nasty food poisoning bacteria.

"Best before dates however are a bit different in that the food is likely to be safe even after this date, but it just may not taste or look so good.

"Always follow good food hygiene rules when preparing and storing any high risk foods such as meat, fish etc. A bout of food poisoning is not only unpleasant but could be potentially life threatening. There's no point in taking risks with food safety."

 

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  • rate this
    -25

    Comment number 43.

    'I often eat food that is beyond the use by date, and never had so much as an upset stomach!'

    I can do so much better - see this revolver I'm holding to my head? I've already pulled the trigger 5 times, and nothing has happened. I shall keep pulling the trigger because now I'm confident nothing bad can happen.

  • rate this
    -17

    Comment number 71.

    @47.moi27
    As for my own kitchen and my own house, I take the responsibility myself; thank you.
    ----
    Does that responsibility include footing the bill for medical treatment if you become infected after consuming contaminated food? Repaying your employer for sick pay?

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 64.

    "Fred:The one that really gets me is Honey - it has a use by date. Honey was found in one of the Egyptian pyramids from 5-10,000 years ago. Sure it was a bit dried out but it was still perfectly safe and edible."

    So you actually ate it then? - oh thought not

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 98.

    How typical; members of the public who consider their views as fact versus food scientists who conduct tests on these things every working day. I know whose view I trust. Also why must everything these days be some sort of conspiracy? The internet has brought forth a generation of mentally ill people.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 120.

    Yet another HYS topic about food and health, and again seemingly designed to bring out the growing number of commenters who have been brainwashed into thinking absolutely everything is the fault of 'the obese' who now apparently outnumber decent, moral 'normals' 86-1 and whose elimination would solve every known social problem overnight. Stop being sheep, and Auntie, quit encouraging bullies.

 

Comments 5 of 403

 

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