Official advice finally settles debate over what should go in the fridge
Do eggs go in the fridge or the cupboard? Official guidance is about to end your kitchen spats once and for all...
Credit: Ellie Florio and jordansmall - Foter
New food labelling guidelines which help consumers and retailers ensure their food lasts has been published, finally giving an official answer to the 'fridge or cupboard' debates that plague every student kitchen in the country.
The new packaging, backed by the Food Standards Agency, aims to cut domestic food waste by 350,000 tonnes, which amounts to around £1bn, by 2025.
The often confusing combination of ‘display by’, ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates which currently appear on packaging is being simplified to encourage shoppers to keep their produce in the right place and ensure food lasts longer.
Changes to labelling include a ‘little blue fridge’ icon for food which should be kept in the fridge, as well as reintroducing the snowflake symbol for food that can be frozen.
Where should you store different foods?
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the body behind the recommendations, has given official guidance stating which foods should be kept in the fridge. Get ready to scream with joy/anger, because you're about to proved very right or very wrong...
Foods that should be kept in the fridge
- Apples and oranges – Most other fruit will also have the little blue fridge icon on its packaging, but the impact on these two is the biggest. A bag of apples could last up to 2 weeks longer if stored in the fridge.
- Eggs – They also recommend that you keep them in their box
- Tomatoes – You should make sure that your tomatoes stay in their packet until you need to use them.
However, you won't get the full effect of refrigeration if your fridge isn't kept at the correct temperature – it should be between 3°C (37°F) and 5°C (40°F). Shockingly, a third of UK fridges are inefficient because they're over 5°C.
There are also a number of foods which really don’t need to go in the fridge. Can you guess before reading?
With the below, they should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. It’s best to keep these foods in their original packaging, if they have any, and anything which could dry out if exposed to the air, ensure you wrap up once opened.
Foods that should be kept in the cupboard
If you're being honest, how much food do you chuck away because it hasn’t been stored correctly? Why not check out these tips and tricks for making food last longer.
How does the new packaging work?
WRAP’s changes will not be compulsory, but they will be recommended to food manufacturers and retailers as the industry standard.
The charity is already working with some of the largest food companies and manufacturers in the UK to help them implement the changes across both own-brand and branded products. It's likely that you'll start seeing these changes in 2018.
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WRAP has come up with a variety of other changes on top of the blue fridge and snowflake icons, all of which have been backed by DEFRA. They include:
- In general, providing clearly written storage advice conveyed with symbols, such as the little blue fridge icon
- Providing clearer temperature advice for chilled foods, since storing food at the right temperature could add an average of three days to its life
- Using clear instructions like “freeze by date shown” or “freeze as soon as possible” alongside the snowflake symbol
- Only put ‘use by’ dates on foods where this is necessary for safety. Everything else will have ‘best before’ dates
- Putting only one date label on each product. There should not be both a ‘display until’ and ‘use by’ date on the same item
- Give people the as long as possible to consume food without making it unsafe. This means maximising the period in which food should be eaten when the product is closed as well as already opened
- Only use ‘use within x number of days’ when it's vital and relating to opened packets. If food will deteriorate once opened, you'll be informed by the label so you can choose whether to eat it at its best.
Why does this matter?
While clearer food storage guidelines prevent the amount and cost of food waste in general, it would also allow for an increase in food given to distribution charities like Fareshare.
WRAP wants better labelling to achieve this, and believes this could increase the redistribution of food four-fold by 2025, creating at least 360 million more meals for people.
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The CEO at WRAP, Marcus Gover, explains:
Telling people clearly how long a product can be consumed once opened, and giving consistent and simple information about storing and freezing, will help people keep their food fresher for longer, and give more options to freeze the food and use it later – rather than binning food that could have been eaten.
Surprisingly, none of the guidance has addressed where you should store ketchup. But then again, maybe that's just too controversial a matter for anyone to decide for good...
If the idea of wasted food makes your skin crawl, here are some surprising foods that you (and can’t) freeze!