Freezer Fairy Aims To Cut Christmas Food Waste

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Learning to use our freezers properly could dramatically reduce the staggering amount of food that will be wasted this Christmas, according to safety experts.

The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) says most of the 7m tonnes of food and drink we bin every year could be safely eaten.

The average home pays out £470 annually for food that ends up being thrown away. It’s thought that with so many people cooking for extended family, more food is wasted at Christmas than at any time.

Among the “myths” identified in research carried out by the FSA were…

*To be safe, food must be frozen on the day it’s bought – 43% of respondents thought this was true

*While it’s in the freezer food can become dangerous for eating – 36% of respondents thought this was true

*It’s unsafe to re-freeze meat after it’s been cooked – 38% of respondents thought this was true

The FSA’s “Freezer Fairy” campaign has come up with handy tips to help you make more use of the food you buy.

Its key points are:

  1. You can safely freeze food any time before the “use-by” date. Think of freezing as being like a “pause button” – and remember you can freeze just about anything!
  2. Don’t be tempted to buy too much food. Instead, plan out how much you will need for each meal. The FSA website has a “portion planner” that can help.
  3. When packing your food groceries, make sure you keep cooked and uncooked items separate to prevent cross-contamination.
  4. Save time, stress and money by doing much of your Christmas Day cooking early and freezing it in air-tight containers or bags. Potatoes, carrot and parsnip wedges and sprouts can be prepared, parboiled and frozen and then cooked fully on the day.
  5. Label frozen food clearly so you don’t forget what it is and when it went in.

Ensure your fridge temperature is less than five degrees centigrade at all times and keep raw and cooked food separate. Defrost turkeys or other meats thoroughly, do not wash it and cook it until all the juices run clear.

More than half of people surveyed admitted to feeling guilty when they throw food away but the FSA insists making better use of our freezers can save us all money as well as easing our consciences.

Leftover Lessons

*Cool, cover and freeze or refrigerate leftover Christmas dinner within one or two hours.

*It’s safe to freeze cooked turkey, even if it has been frozen before.

*It’s fine to include leftovers in recipes and then freeze them to eat later.

*Defrost frozen food overnight in a fridge or in using your microwave’s defrost setting. Reheat until they are piping hot.

*Leftover wine can be frozen and used in recipes. White wine ice cubes can be used to chill alcoholic drinks.

*Eat or freeze all leftovers within two days or one day if they contain rice.

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