We all like to get value for money and that certainly applies to food .
So making the most out of the weekly shop – rather than throwing some of it away – makes perfect sense. After all, who doesn’t want to save money and reduce food waste?
One of the aims of The United Nations World Food Day is to reduce food waste and an awareness of terms used on labelling can help consumers do this.
The “use by” date is usually found on perishable items such as meat and salad and is about safety. Food should not be consumed, cooked or frozen after this date. If it is frozen before this date it should be used within 24-48 hours of being defrosted.
The “best before” date is about quality and is usually found on dried, frozen or tinned goods. The food will still be safe to eat after this date, though the quality may have faded a little.
There are some foods which can remain good to eat for a long time, my personal record concerns a dark chocolate bar. During a long journey I was starving and rummaging round the glove compartment had that wonderful feeling of discovering a treat I’d forgotten about. It tasted fine and only the next day did I discover it was 15 months past its best before date.
A bit of research revealed dark chocolate is usually fine for a year after best before, milk chocolate six months and white chocolate just three months.
That pales into insignificance compared with the record length of time some food has remained edible.
Army rations around the world have traditionally contained biscuits and cake which contain virtually no moisture and so can last a long time in the field. In fact US General Henry Moak kept a piece of pound cake issued during the Vietnam War and ate it on his retirement – 40 years later.
Les Lailey did even better with a can of chicken, part of a hamper given to him on his wedding day. He opened and ate it with no ill effects in 2006 – when he and wife Beryl celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Honey is famously long-lasting due to being hygroscopic – which means it contains virtually no moisture. Archaeologists opening up Egyptian tombs have found edible pots of the stuff dating back 5000 years.
But the prize for eating the oldest food must surely go to paleontologist Dale Guthrie who after excavating a 36,000-year-old steppe bison carcass from Alaskan permafrost stewed and ate some of it. Asked how it tasted he said “tough”.
That’s not something you can ever say about our food. We scour the globe for the best fresh ingredients and our different size pots and consumer advice guides mean waste can be kept to an absolute minimum.
Chicken katsu anyone?