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New packaging developed to reduce waste…

January 18, 2011

Most people, myself included, can get a bit confused when rummaging through the contents of their fridge to assess what’s still edible.  So what are the key indicators you base this important decision on?  Do you stand strictly by the best before, use by and eat within dates – which can in themselves be confusing?  Do you go by physical appearance, and deem a food inedible when mould materialises; or would you simply remove it and progress to the sniff test?  Or do you prefer to haphazardly dive straight in for a taste?

Well for anyone who’s ever had a heated internal debate over something which has been festering in the back of their fridge, there’s good news!  Scientists at the University of Strathclyde are developing a new food wrapping which changes colour when perishable foods such as meat, fish, and salad leaves are going bad.  This new technology will help to reduce unnecessary waste and cut down on the £1 billion worth of food wasted by consumers in Scotland each year.  Scientists estimate this new technology will be hitting the shelves of our local supermarkets within the next couple of years; but until then there are some simple steps which can be taken to reduce the amount of food we throw in the bin.

Firstly, make sure you plan your meals for the week before you go shopping.  This means that you’ll resist the temptation of over-buying and only pick up what you need – as well as having the added bonus that you don’t have to think about what you’re going to eat each night.  When you’re doing your shopping, make sure you check the dates on everything you buy to ensure you’ll eat them before they go off.  The key thing to remember here is that use by dates refer to food safety; whereas best before dates refer to food quality.  Fresh foods such as dairy, meat and fish should not be eaten after their use by dates.  Foods with best before dates are safe to eat after this date, but you may find that the taste and texture has changed.  The exception to this rule is eggs, which should not be eaten after their best before date.

Obviously plans can change at short notice, and it’s not realistic to always stick to your meal plan, so if you find you have food which is nearing its use by date, stick it in the freezer for another time.  But make sure you rotate your frozen food so you don’t forget about things.

For more tips on how to keep your fridge fresh, see the Love Food Hate Waste website.

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