People 'taking more food risks'
6/11/2012 4:04:18 PM -
People are taking more risks with their food as finances become tighter, a Food Standards Agency survey suggests.
It said its research showed that people were trying to save money by making their food go further.
An FSA survey of nearly 2,000 people across the UK suggested more than half were trying to make better use of leftover food.
This included ignoring use-by dates, as well as keeping leftovers in the fridge for long periods of time.
The number of cases of food poisoning peaks in the summer as the warmer weather means germs can grow at a quicker rate.
Bob Martin, a food safety expert at the Food Standards Agency, said: "With most of us seeing our weekly shopping bills increase over the last few years, we are all looking for ways to get the most out of our shopping budget.
"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."
The FSA said a third of people were more likely to use the look and smell of food to see if it was safe to eat rather than the use-by date.
Mr Martin said: "It's tempting to just give your food a sniff to see if you think it's gone 'off', but food bugs like E.coli and Salmonella don't cause food to smell off, even when they may have grown to dangerous levels. So food could look and smell fine but still be harmful."
The FSA said leftovers should be put in the fridge as soon as possible and then eaten within two days and should be cooked until they are steaming hot.
Each year there are around 70,000 recorded cases of food poisoning in England and Wales.
There are many different causes, including not cooking food thoroughly, not storing food correctly that needs to be chilled, or someone who is ill or has unclean hands touching the food.
Thorough washing of hands before and after preparing food and appropriate storing, handling and cooking of food will minimise the risk.