The pandemic has seen a resurgence of home cooking and baking, but are you making the most of your food in a safe way? Our guest from the FSA explains more.
This is a guest post by Peter Quigley. All views expressed are Peter’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
With our favourite pubs, cafes and restaurants currently closed, many of us are spending more time in the kitchen and trying to manage our food better in lockdown.
To mark World Food Safety Day (7 June) the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has pulled together some of the most frequent questions it gets asked about the contents of your cupboards and fridges.
I hope this advice will help you to avoid throwing away good food unnecessarily.
The FSA’s top five home food facts
When eggs float are they bad?
Don’t use the egg float test to determine safety. Eggs are safe to eat for a couple of days after the best before date, as long as they are cooked thoroughly.
Is food safe if the can has a dent in it?
If the dent on the can is shallow and there are no other obvious signs that the can is damaged (such as the can expanding or leaking) your food should remain fit to eat.
How long can you safely eat rice for after cooking?
Keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day. When you reheat rice, always check the dish is steaming hot all the way through.
Can you eat potatoes when they start to sprout?
Remove any sprouts on potatoes before using them and remember to cut off any green or rotten bits.
Can you eat brown bananas?
Fruit or vegetables that are a bit overripe, such as wrinkly carrots, brown bananas and slightly mushy strawberries can be eaten normally (providing they are not mouldy). Alternatively, they can be used in cooking, baking or smoothies.
You can also take a look at our home food fact-checker here.
Know your dates
Do you know your dates? Understanding the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use-by’ dates can help you to manage your food and avoid waste.
A use-by date is the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten until the use-by date but not after. You will see use-by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads.
You can freeze pre-packaged food right up to the use-by date. After the use-by date, don’t eat it, cook it or freeze it. The food could be unsafe to eat or drink, even if it has been stored correctly and looks and smells fine.
A lot of foods, including meat and milk, can be frozen before the use-by date though, so plan ahead.
The best before date, sometimes shown as BBE (best before end), is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best.
Don’t trust the sniff test
The so-called ‘sniff test’ is not an appropriate method for testing whether food is safe to eat.
Food can look/smell fine even after the use-by date has passed, but the product will not necessarily be safe to eat. We can’t see/smell the bugs that can cause food poisoning.
We do however, encourage people to use common sense when it comes to the foods they wish to eat.
For foods with a best before date people can use sensory cues to determine whether the food is appropriate to eat, be that looking for visible mould on bread, tasting to see if biscuits/crisps are stale, or smelling some dairy products (best before) to see if they have soured.
But for foods with a use-by date, these should be used or discarded beyond that date, and smelling them to see if they are ‘off’ is not appropriate.
This was a guest post by Peter Quigley. All views expressed were Peter’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
Do you feel you’ve been managing your food safely during the pandemic? Were you aware of the FSA’s five food facts? Let us know in the comments.