News this week that households in the UK throw out the equivalent of 6 meals per week because of a lack of understanding when it comes to freezing food was a bit of a surprise.
Previously fresh food, such as vegetables, especially pre-packed salads and ‘BOG offs’ – buy one get one free, were said to be the main cause of food waste. However in a recent study by the Food Standards Industry, FSA it highlighted that the lack of how to freeze food was the main reason for food waste.
The main reasons cited in their report were, that consumers are unaware that food can be frozen after being cooked. Meat and other food cannot be frozen on a best before date and they didn’t know how to defrost and re-use frozen food.
Here is the guide from the Food Standards Agency on freezing food:
• Most types of bacteria survive freezing, but become inactive while frozen due to the low temperature and lack of available water. Frozen food will, therefore, keep indefinitely, although the taste or texture of the food can deteriorate over time due to ice crystal damage.
• As a rule of thumb, the warmer the temperature, the more active bacteria are. It is recommended to defrost food slowly and safely, preferably overnight in the refrigerator, to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria growing in the food.
• Once defrosted, food will spoil in the same way as if it were fresh, so handle defrosted foods in the same way as you would raw. Defrosted food can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours before it needs to be cooked or thrown away.
• Refrozen food has a higher risk of causing food poisoning because when food is re-thawed, bacteria can multiply rapidly. However, if you cook defrosted food - for example turning defrosted chicken into a chicken curry - harmful bugs will be killed off, making it safe to refreeze.
Source: Food Standards Agency