Are You Storing Your Food Right?

Pretty Woman Looking For Food In Refrigerator

Do you always find yourself throwing out the remains of a bag of salad? Or do you sometimes struggle to eat the full loaf of bread before it goes stale? There’s no denying that we’re all guilty of throwing away food. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The experts at Tap Warehouse have demystified the process of storing food, to help keep your food fresher for longer whilst saving you a bit of money in the meantime.

Is this still fine? Pretty, young woman in her kitchen by the fridge, looking at the expiry date of a product she took from her fridge

Pic: Shutterstock

Meat, Poultry & Seafood Storage Myths

Myth 1: Defrosting Meat, Poultry & Fish at Room Temperature is Safe

More than half of the UK (54%) defrost meat and fish at room temperature, which you definitely shouldn’t be doing. Thawing it this way can cause bacteria to grow in the food if it gets too warm. Instead, you should defrost the meat or fish overnight in the fridge, or just zap in the microwave if you’re short on time. Make sure you use the defrost setting on your microwave and keep checking the meat every minute to assess whether or not it has defrosted.

Myth 2: You Can Smell Raw Meat to Check if it’s Ok to Eat

Did you know that two-thirds (66%) of Brits determine if raw meat is still edible by just smelling it? Unfortunately, you cannot smell the bacteria that can cause food poisoning, so this practice is extremely dangerous. Instead, you should check the use-by date, and never eat the meat after the use-by date, unless it’s already been frozen.

Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly:

Pic: Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly

Condiments & Cupboard Food Storage Myths

Myth 3: There’s a Correct Way to Store Ketchup

Whilst this can be a big debate in any British household, the truth is that there’s no right way to store ketchup. It lasts just as long in either place. However, what is a significant change between the two is the change in the taste. It is more acidic if you leave it in the cupboard at room temperature.

Myth 4: Keeping Bread in the Fridge Will Make it Last Longer

If you live in a smaller household, finishing a loaf of bread before it goes out of date, can seem like a chore. However, there’s no need to throw it away. Instead, if you feel like you’re not going to finish it in time, put it in the freezer. Here it can last up to three months. Just whatever you do, do not store it in the fridge as it will go stale much quicker.

Woman Slicing A Loaf Of White Bread

Pic: Shutterstock

Fruit & Vegetable Storage Myths

Myth 5: You Should Store Your Potatoes and Bananas in the Fridge

Doing this can actually come with health implications. Potatoes turn sweet once refrigerated and these sugars can turn into a harmful carcinogen (a substance that potentially can cause cancer), named acrylamide. Refrigerating bananas is another big no-no. The fruit falls from tropical climates so has no natural defence against the cold -meaning the vitamins and nutrients will be broken down, before turning mushy and black. If you want to keep your bananas fresh for longer, cover the stems with a wrap to prevent the fruit from releasing the gas, ethylene, that ripens the fruit.

Myth 6: You Must Eat Fruit & Veg Before the Date on the Packaging

Did you know that the dates you see on fruit and vegetable packaging are actually ‘best-before’ dates? There’s actually no issue eating this fresh produce after the ‘best-before’ date (unless of course, it’s mouldy). However, if you don’t intend to eat the fruit and vegetables within the ‘best-before’ date, you can store them in the freezer. Things like herbs, garlic and chilli can even be used directly from the freezer. It’s also worth noting that some foods with high water content, like tomatoes, salad greens, strawberries and cucumbers, can go mushy once they’ve thawed. They are, however, great for making smoothies or for cooking if you want to add some flavour.

Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly:

Pic: Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly

Dairy & Eggs Storage Myths

Myth 7: You Should Store Your Eggs Inside the Fridge Door

Most fridges have a special egg rack in the door for you to store your eggs, so it would seem to make perfect sense to store your eggs here. But did you know that keeping eggs in the fridge door will make them rot quicker? This part of the fridge is actually the warmest, because it’s subject to constant temperature changes every time the door is opened. To keep your eggs fresher for longer, store them at a consistent temperature below 20°c. Although you can’t store eggs in the fridge door, you can, however, store them in the freezer. Just crack the eggs into containers and they will last up to 12 months. This is the perfect solution if you find yourself not eating the eggs before the ‘use by’ date on the packaging.

Myth 8: Butter Lasts Just as Long at Room Temperature

Quite simply, this is not true. The fatty content of the butter means that if you leave it at room temperature, it will only last 1-2 days. However, if you store it within the fridge, it can last up to three months. But, if that’s not long enough, you can even store your butter in the freezer for up to nine months! Then when you need to use it, just leave it to defrost in the fridge for six to seven hours.

Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly:

Pic: Handy Food Guides to Storing Your Food Properly

Revealed: The Truth About Use-By & Best-Before Dates

No matter how well you store your food, it can still go out of date. But, what are you supposed to look for to check if it’s ok to eat? There are two types of date labels found on food:

Use-By Dates

Did you know that a lot of the UK assess the freshness of their food by smelling it? According to the Food Standards Agency, 73% of Brits complete a smell-test for milk and yoghurt, and 62% for seafood.

Instead, you should go by the use-by date, which is often found in foods that perish quickly, such as meat products. The bacteria that cause food poisoning cannot be seen, tasted or smelled -so it’s important to go by the use-by date.

Best-Before Dates

These dates are most commonly found on the packaging of fresh produce, such as condiments, fruit, and vegetables. Best-before is about the quality and not safety, so you can usually eat these foods a couple of weeks after the best-before date. There’s nothing worse than having to throw out food that was once perfectly fine to eat. But hopefully, this guide has given you some insights into food storage to help preserve the lifespan of your food and save you money in the long run.

Hope Wilson

I love travelling and food- so it's a good job I'm the travel and cookery editor for My Weekly! I also get involved with the real life section of the magazine as helping people share their story is one of my passions.