Misconceptions about freezing food can lead to food waste , watchdog says. (Image from www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/frozen-food-safety-confusion-leading-to-tonnes-of-waste-watchdog-warns-a7119276.html)
Freezing food that is reaching expiry is a good practise to reduce food waste. However, a recent survey has shown that misconceptions about freezing and food safety can actually contribute to more food waste.
A UK watchdog organization surveyed 1,500 people, of which 43% assumed that food could only be frozen on the day it was purchased, when in fact it can be frozen up to (and often after) its best-before date. The survey also revealed that 38% of people surveyed believed that food is unsafe to refreeze after it has been cooked. However, this is not the case as food can be refrozen if it has been cooked thoroughly.
According to the BBC, frozen foods can be kept almost indefinitely, however, the quality of the food can deteriorate causing changes in texture and taste. Freezing food effectively pauses bacterial activity and once defrosted, it will spoil in the same way as before it was frozen since the levels of bacteria do not change during freezing. However, refrozen raw food could pose a health risk, as bacteria can multiply very fast after defrosting for a second time. As a result, Health Canada recommends that food be cooked the day of defrosting.
These knowledge gaps uncovered by the study are reflective of a lack of food storage and safety education in western society. Consumers often throw away food because they are wary and unsure of its quality. Studies like this will help to spread the facts of food safety and hopefully reduce health and safety related food waste!
You can read more about the study in the original BBC article here.