Research in the UK by the Food Standards Agency has revealed people are taking more risks with their food as money becomes tighter and disposable income is squeezed.
Leftover foods are sealed in the fridge and often eaten next day, sell-by dates are being overlooked and some meats are being tested by smell. The survey found that some people were eating food simply because it did not smell "off". The concern is that food contaminations like E.coli and Salmonella do not produce a foul smell and although present, people will go ahead and eat the food simply because it has no foul odour.
In many cases, people are overlooking sell-by dates by up to three or four days beyond the date shown. The survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) interviewed around 2,000 people and found more than half were making use of left over foods. As much as 97 percent of those interviewed in the report believed their shopping bills had risen significantly in the last three years. Recommendations suggest left over foods should not be kept more than 48 hours in the fridge.
Bob Martin, a food expert at the FSA said:
Using leftover food is a good way of making our meals go further. However, unless we’re careful, there’s a chance we can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling them properly. During Food Safety Week we are encouraging people to view their fridge as their friend, and make the most of leftovers while staying safe.
The number of cases of food poisoning increases dramatically during warmer weather periods, reports the BBC, meaning germs grow at a much accelerated rate. There are roughly a million instances of food poisoning every year in the UK, reports The Guardian. The levels are exacerbated during long, hot summer months, with around 120,000 additional cases during the months from June to August.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service in the US has produced a full and detailed fact sheet for maintaining and handling food safety.