Survey Shows Uncertainty About When to Throw Food Away

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27th June 2014 15:03 - Food

A survey conducted by NSF International (a non-profit public health group) has found that 25% of Americans base their decision on whether or not food is safe to eat on visual cues rather than making use of the information provided on the packaging.

Approximately half of those asked claimed that they do not throw food away until there is a noticeable, visible change in its appearance. Some of the other more alarming findings of the survey, comprising of over 1,000 Americans from across the country, include the almost two fifths (17%) who only dispose of food when it starts to smell and the 14% who admit to never throwing out frozen food.

The survey found that those least likely to be governed by the dates included on the packaging are over 55s, who are more prepared to hold on to food which is beyond its expiration date. Yet more, there was a degree of distrust in others, with two out of five confessing that they have avoided eating something at a friend or family member’s house out of concern for the safety or quality of the food.

The implication of this confusion manifests itself in two ways: either causing illness or leading to perfectly good food being thrown out and wasted. The misunderstanding is rooted to the different meanings of the different labels. For example, a “use by date” means the product must be eaten by this particular date or it may make you sick, whereas the “best if used by” label means the product can still be eaten after that date has passed, but the quality is likely to have deteriorated.

 In the case of the “use by date”, those with a blasé attitude towards this are more prone to sickness, whereas those who stringently adhere to the “best if used by” label may be disposing of a perfectly edible product.

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