Summer bbq kebabs

Food safety on a budget

With 10 Ukranian footballers suffering from food poisoning just days before their Euro 2012 opening game, and a Hertfordshire hotel prosecuted this week after a wedding party fell ill from undercooked páte, Food Safety Week 2012 couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Many of us have become complacent about food safety at home, or presume that strict food hygiene standards in public places will protect us from getting sick. I was shocked to learn from stats released this week by the Food Standards Agency that there are over a million cases of food poisoning each year, 20,000 hospitalisations, and 500 deaths. It’s enough to make you re-think what you really know about your leftovers and what lies in your freezer.

Food Safety Week 2012

This year’s awareness week focuses on ‘food safety on a budget’. You may wonder what budgeting has to do with food safety, but I guess it makes sense that if you’re buying in bulk and freezing, or you’re trying to keep food for as long as possible, then you need to know your use by dates from your best before dates.

I don’t know about you, but we’ve definitely noticed a big rise in food bills and general household mess. The baby who wanted milk every two hours as a newborn has now taken her love of food to a new level and as a result we are faced with an increasingly large food bill. Little one’s day is taken up with eating, throwing unwanted food on the floor, stuffing her face with rice cakes, and blowing raspberries with a mouth full of yogurt.

Juggling work and motherly duties also means that any sort of proper cleaning has ground to a halt (the fridge for starters). It wasn’t long before the husband cottoned on to me using quick-fix household wet wipes to give the essence of a clean house. Thank God this also resulted in us getting a cleaner once a week, result!

Use by dates and best before dates… confused?

So do you know the difference between a ‘use by’ date and ‘best before’ date? I didn’t have a clue either, until I started cooking in bulk once weaning commenced. The long and short of it is that the use by date is when you definitely need to throw it out, even if it looks and smells fine.

The best before date shows how long the food will be at its best quality. The Food Standards Agency says:  “Using food after the ‘best before’ doesn’t mean it will be unsafe. The exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date.”

More information about food safety

The NHS Choices website has lots of good information about food safety, including how to store food safely and how to shop on a budget.


Posted in Blog, Food and nutrition.

One Comment

  1. Very interesting to read especially regarding the differences between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’. I didn’t realise there was one until now! The link to how to eat on a budget was also good to read. With two young children to feed and life being as busy as it is, it is good practice to make time to stop and question how you shop!

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