As part of Food Safety Week (11-17 June) Recycle for Essex is offering advice on how to stay safe when making food last longer.
Getting to know what the different date labels mean can help to make sure that you don’t throw away food that is still good to eat, without taking any chances on food that could make you ill.
Here are some useful tips to remember:
- Foods with a ‘Use By’ date can be eaten up to the end of that date, but not after that – even if it looks and smells fine
‘Use By’ date, then defrost and eat within 24 hours
Food will last even longer if it can be frozen. Freeze it before the
- ‘Best Before’ dates refer to quality rather than food safety. When the date has passed the food won’t be unsafe, but might begin to lose flavour. The exception is eggs, which should never be eaten after the ‘best before’ date
- Ignore ‘Display Until’ labels, as these are only for shop staff
- Always follow on pack storage guidance and instructions, such as ‘eat within three days of opening’.
Making the most of leftovers is a great way to make food go further and save money in the process. Here are some tips for using leftovers safely:
- Cool leftovers as quickly as possible after cooking. Cover them well, ideally in an airtight container, store them in the fridge and eat them within two days
- Pay particular attention to storage advice for leftover rice. Ideally eat straight after cooking – if not, cool quickly, store in the fridge and keep for no longer than one day. Reheat until piping hot before eating
- Leftovers can be stored for longer in the freezer. Cool them first and label with the date frozen – it’s best to defrost and eat within three months
- Defrosted leftovers should be eaten within 24 hours and not refrozen. The one exception is raw food like meat or poultry, which can be refrozen safely after cooking.
County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Waste & Recycling said: “Taking note of date labels and making the most of leftovers can help us to reduce food waste and save money, but please take a moment to make sure you are doing this safely.
“Around 7.2 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year, costing the average family with children £680 a year, over £50 a month. Rotting food in landfill also produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Therefore it is vitally important that we are all doing everything we can to reduce the amount of food we throw away.”
For tasty leftover recipes and more advice on reducing food waste visit www.recycleforessex.co.uk