UK survey shows scale of food safety mistakes


A survey has found that some people in the UK taste food to see if it is spoiled and others are unaware of best before dates.

Research by white goods retailer Currys looked at storage habits and the methods people use to tell when food is off. The poll was conducted among 2,026 people across the UK this summer this year.

Currys looked at the topic as part of ongoing research into how to be safer in the kitchen, especially when it comes to the proper use of refrigerators and food storage. They’ve also teamed up with a microbiologist to advise people on best practices.

For some, the use-by date is like a guideline, while others follow it strictly. The survey found that more than 18% of Britons have inflicted food poisoning on themselves in the past.

bad practice
Nearly 1 in 3 people surveyed have tasted food to see if it’s stale, putting themselves at risk of food poisoning, while 4% eat it without checking for signs of rot.

It seems that 77 percent are likely to apply the sniff test to check the condition of food a day or two after its expiration date. It is not possible to taste, smell or see the germs that cause food poisoning. Tasting just a tiny amount can make people very sick.

One in 10 respondents do not check the expiry date and move food from the fridge to the freezer until two days after the expiry date. However, 42% adhere to manufacturer recommendations and check the expiration date to determine if an item is still safe to eat.

Two-thirds of participants store leftover food for later consumption. Nearly three-quarters of people opt for the microwave to reheat their food, while 38% use the oven and 19% to re-fry their food. Five percent eat directly from the refrigerator.

Nearly a quarter of people keep ketchup for up to six months, although bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup say it should be refrigerated once opened and consumed within eight weeks. Additionally, 17% admit to storing mayonnaise for up to six months, even though Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise recommends using the product within three months.

The majority choose to store mayonnaise and ketchup in the fridge, with 63% and 40% respectively wanting their sauces refrigerated, but 36% store ketchup in the cupboard.

Jonathan Hughes, a microbiologist, said: “Ketchup is acidic due to both the tomatoes and the vinegar it contains, which inhibits bacterial growth considerably. Ketchup usually comes with an expiration date of around one year unopened and eight weeks in the refrigerator once opened. However, it is highly resistant to bacterial growth, lasting up to six months after opening.

Storage issues
A quarter of respondents argue over the storage of bread in the house. In second place are leftovers, with 24% saying they get irritated when not stored properly and in third place is chocolate with 21%.

The survey revealed that 39% of participants prefer to keep chocolate in the cupboard, while 29% think it should be kept in the fridge. However, 4% store chocolate in the living room.

In total, 16% store potatoes in the refrigerator and 11% store their bread in this way.

Hughes said, “Chocolate is best stored in a cool, dry place, like a storage cupboard. When chocolate is removed from the refrigerator and the condensation created returns to room temperature, it causes a phenomenon called sugar blooming – the white powdery coating on the outside surface of your chocolate.

“Store your bread in a bread box, as a cool, dark place provides good humidity control. Bread goes stale faster in the refrigerator because it causes the starch molecules in the bread to recrystallize faster than at room temperature.

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