Eat well and stay safe

While the national Food Safety Week (4 – 10 July) may only last a few days, there are many simple things we can all do all year round to keep our food safe to eat. The tips below help us all to live well, save money and reduce waste.

According to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, a fifth of what we buy is thrown away, costing the average family nearly £700 a year.  Most of this food and drink is or once was, perfectly good to eat and drink.  So what simple steps can you take to keep your food fresh and safe?

•    Do you understand different food labels? What is the difference between “Best before” and “Use by”?
•    Keep your fridge between 0°C and 5°C.  This is the optimum temperature range to keep many foods fresh, meaning they will last for longer.  Keep a thermometer in the fridge so you know the temperature and can adjust if needed.
•    Help cool air circulate in your fridge by not over-loading it and by closing the door as soon as possible.
•    Keep raw foods such as uncooked meat and fish away from fruit and vegetables, to avoid bacterial contamination.  Keep meats covered so they do not touch or drip on other foodstuffs.
•    Do not store half used cans in the fridge. Empty the contents into a suitable air tight container as once opened to the air, metals from the tin can contaminate food.
•    If you have made too much food and decide to keep it for left-overs, remember to cool the food as quickly as possible.  Putting hot food in the fridge raises the temperature and the condensation formed around the food is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
•    Once food is portioned, cover and store in your fridge for two days, or freeze as soon as possible after it has cooled down.
•    Always heat left-overs thoroughly and do not reheat left-overs more than once.
•    Remember to label foodstuffs before you freeze them, ideally putting the date frozen on the packaging.  Foodstuffs can last a long time in a freezer, but ideally thoroughly defrost, cook and eat within three months.  You can defrost foods more slowly by putting them in the fridge, or if you are going to eat them straight away, you can use a microwave.
•    Many foods once defrosted should not be refrozen, so ensure you read the manufacturer’s instructions.
•    Keep foods safe by keeping them covered, resealing packs with Clingfilm or foil or by putting them in air tight containers.  Plastic take-away containers can be washed and reused for food storage, which is ideal as many are suitable for use in the microwave to reheat food.
•    Do not use foods which are mouldy, smell “off” or have gone past their Use By date.  These waste foods can be recycled by using the kerbside food collection service.   Click here for information on this service including advice on how to keep your caddy clean.

For many hints and tips on how to keep your food safe, for recipe ideas and portion advice visit Love Food Hate Waste.