FSA to consider freezer advice on food labels

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

The FSA may expand its guidance to food manufacturers to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers
The FSA may expand its guidance to food manufacturers to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers

Related tags: Food, Food standards agency

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) plans to consider whether to expand its guidance to food manufacturers to cover food storage and freezing advice for consumers. 

The FSA, working with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, revealed it would consider the move as part of a review of the guidance provided to the food industry on date marking on food.

The news comes as it revealed that consumers were wasting 7Mt of food and drink a year. The FSA said a significant amount of that could be saved if consumers had a better knowledge of how to freeze foods.

New FSA consumer research

New FSA research, based on the views of 1,500 adults, released as part of Food Safety Week, which begins today (July 4), identified a number of freezing ‘myths’ that prevented people from using freezers to make food last longer.

Of consumers interviewed, 43% thought that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe.

A further 38% incorrectly said it was dangerous to refreeze meat after it had been cooked. And 36% wrongly believed that food could become unsafe to eat while in the freezer.

Over two thirds (68%) of the people surveyed had thrown food away in the past month. Topping the list were bread (36%), fruit (31%), vegetables (31%) and leftover meals (22%).

The most common reason (36%) for throwing food away was that it was past its ‘use by’ date. Just under a third (30%) admitted to throwing food away as they had bought too much and didn’t eat it, while over half (54%) said they felt guilty at throwing food away.

The research also found that 90% of people said there were foods they would never freeze.

Food poisoning worries

Almost a quarter (23%) said they would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting, with 73% of these people saying this is down to worries about food poisoning.

FSA director of policy Steve Wearne said: “Every year, we throw away 7Mt of food and drink from our homes. Much of this waste is unnecessary, and a better understanding of how to freeze food safely could go a significant way towards tackling the problem.

“Our research shows that many of the fears the public has about freezing food are unfounded and we need to ensure they know the facts. 31% of the people we spoke to said that more information about how to safely freeze food would help them to reduce their food waste – that’s why freezing is the focus of this year’s Food Safety Week.”

Meanwhile, for the latest food safety advice, geared to the needs of food and drink manufacturers, don’t miss the Food Manufacture Group’s annual food safety conference​. The one-day event, chaired by Professor Colin Dennis, will take place in London on October 13, 2016.

FSA’s food waste research – at a glance

  • 43% thought that food should only be frozen on the day of purchase to be safe
  • 38% said it was dangerous to refreeze meat after it has been cooked
  • 36% said that food could become unsafe to eat while in the freezer
  • 68% of the people surveyed had thrown food away in the past month
  • 23% said they would never freeze meat that was cooked after defrosting

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