Rarely is the case that the average household consumes 99% of what it purchases, but we didn't know the situation was quite this bad. Apparently, we're a nation of over-shoppers.
A study commissioned by Samsung revealed that per year we bin about £500 of food and that nearly 50% of the country throws away food that hasn't even been opened.
Eco campaigners Love Food Hate Waste have supported the research, reported The Daily Mail. The study also revealed that nearly half of Brits will throw away cooked food because they've prepared too much.
Nearly 75% of Brits do a big shop once a week, and 83% revealed they top that shop up with intermittent smaller shops during the week.
What type of food do Brits regularly throw away? Ready meals, fresh meat, milk, fruit juices, home made food and dairy products. It is believed that we also don't have a good understanding of what 'use by' and 'best before' dates are.
LOOK: Do these 15 foods need to be refrigerated?
Peanut Butter Or Jams
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Both <strong>WHY?</strong> Depending on the type of peanut butter or jam you buy, it can be stored either in the fridge or out. "Peanut butters, for example, often have preservatives that allow them to be stored in the cupboard even after opening," says <a href="www.VancouverNutritionist.com">Rich Ralph, registered holistic nutritionist</a> from Vancouver B.C. Ralph recommends finding a peanut butter that includes organic peanuts — this type, however, should be kept in the fridge.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Out <strong>WHY?</strong> Unless you plan to roast meat with them or enjoy fish-flavoured coffee, you should <a href="http://www.coffeeam.com/coffee-storage.html">never store coffee in the fridge or freezer.</a> Coffee often absorbs flavours from surrounding foods, according to Coffeeam.com.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Out <strong>WHY?</strong> Unless chopped, onions are best kept in cupboards, Ralph says — in a fridge, the odour of an onion can latch onto other foods. "Be careful not to keep them with potatoes, though, as onions can sometimes stimulate potatoes to start sprouting," he notes.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> If you want your bread to last longer, keep it in the fridge. "Bread is often kept in the fridge or freezer in the summer, and on the counter in the winter. This is simply due to the speed at which bacteria can grow at higher temperatures and humidity," Ralph says.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> If you don't cook with soy sauce every day, the best option is to <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/soy-sauce-101-all-you-really-need-to-know-about-the-essential-asian-ingredient">keep it in the fridge,</a> according to Examiner.com. Soy sauce contains small amounts of alcohol which can taste flat and stale if left out for a long period of time.
Bananas And Other Fruits
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Both <strong>WHY?</strong> In small amounts, bananas, apples and other fruits don't need to be kept in the fridge. "Most fruit can be kept out of the fridge, but some people often prefer a cool apple to a warm one. This will really depend on preference," Ralph says. And to avoid waste, never keep a bag of fruit on the counter if you don't plan to eat it right away — fruit in a cooler environment will keep for longer.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> If you want your whole-wheat flour to last, the experts at <a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101_basics_and_techniques/5_surprising_foods_you_should_keep_in_the_refrigerator?page=3">EatingWell.com recommend keeping it in the fridge</a>. Whole-wheat flour contains wheat germs that can spoil if kept out for a long period of time. Tip: Use a plastic bag or a tight container, as whole-wheat flour can pick up odours quite quickly. All-purpose flour will be fine in a cupboard.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Depends on the kind <strong>WHY?</strong> Salted butter, for example, can last for longer outside the fridge than unsalted butter, Ralph says. "Typically with butter, I recommend keeping a small container out of the fridge with enough butter to last a few days. This way you always have soft butter on hand."
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In (but can be kept out for a few hours) <strong>WHY?</strong> You probably would never store your yogurt cups in your cupboards, but depending on the type of yogurt you buy (pasteurized vs. nonpasteurized), <a href="http://www.ehow.com/facts_7382133_long-yogurt-stay-good-unrefrigerated_.html">you are able to keep yogurt out on the counter for several hours</a>, according to eHow.com. The only exception? Unpasteurized yogurt must be consumed within an hour after opening.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> Cold dressing may not be your preferred taste, but Ralph says salad dressings with oils should always be kept in the fridge to avoid spoiling.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> In some countries, eggs will be fine stored outside the fridge, thanks to their protective shells. But in North America, eggs sold in stores often go through a washing process that strips away natural preservatives to prevent contamination of salmonella, Ralph says. If you're buying eggs from a local farmer, make sure you ask about the farmer's practices. "Farmers who sell eggs at the local farmers market are typically very meticulous to ensure their chickens are in clean environments with very low possibility of salmonella. But it's always good to ask," he says. Any washing of eggs means they should be refrigerated.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> Similar to salad dressings, condiments like ketchup and mustard should also be kept in the fridge because of their oil content. "Oils are very susceptible to damage from heat, light and oxygen. For this reason, they should always be kept in cool and dark places," he says.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> Depends on the kind <strong>WHY?</strong> If you only use dry herbs for cooking, you don't need to refrigerate them. Ralph says dried herbs last longer in cool or dark places, so both in the fridge or cupboard works. Fresh herbs, on the other hand, should always be kept in the fridge.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> If you want your walnuts, peanuts or almonds to last longer, <a href="http://www.ehow.com/how_4548700_best-way-store-nuts.html">store them in the fridge,</a> according to eHow.com. Many nuts that contain oil can become rancid if they're not stored properly.
<strong>IN OR OUT:</strong> In <strong>WHY?</strong> Keeping your <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/one-easy-tip-to-keep-your-lemo-144430">lemons and limes in a plastic bag in the fridge can help them last four times longer,</a> according The Kitchn.
KNOW YOUR FOOD:
Best before: These dates refer to quality rather than food safety. Foods with a 'best before' date should be safe to eat after the 'best before' date, but they may no longer be at their best.
Use by: These dates refer to safety. Food can be eaten up to the end of this date but not after even if it looks and smells fine. Always follow the storage instructions on packs.
Display until: You can ignore these dates as they are for shop staff not for shoppers.
Last month, Jennifer Waters wrote on Market Watch that experts revealed expiration dates have little to do with whether the food is safe to eat. "In fact," she reported, "many “use-by,” “sell-by” and “best-before” dates don’t have a thing to do with food safety. Instead, they’re indicators for shelving and inventory purposes used by retailers.
“If the food looks or smells bad, certainly throw it away, but just because it reaches a certain date on the package is not a guarantee that the food is unsafe,” says Ted Labuza, a professor of food science and engineering at the University of Minnesota."
Food storage is also an issue - only 18% of people actually use the compartments in the fridge properly, while the rest stock items in there haphazardly. The fridge has different temperatures depending on how high the shelf is - so meat should ideally be stocked at the bottom.
Weirdly, Aberystwyth in Wales was revealed to be the most wasteful, with the average household wasting nearly £900 worth of food per year. Birmingham came second, with London at sixth place.
Lana Sanleandro, head of marketing for Samsung Home Appliances, said: "...it's... something that everyone can do something about, whether that be through better management of the weekly shop, more preparation when making meals and simply by learning about the best conditions to store different sorts of foods."
Here is a table of the most wasteful regions (well done Wrexham!)
- Aberystwyth: £884
- Birmingham: £830.96
- Oxford: £708.24
- Swansea: £682.76
- Worcester: £672.36
- London: £659.36
- Bristol: £644.28
- Newcastle: £632.84
- Chelmsford: £627.64
- Liverpool: £627.64
- Leicester: £617.24
- York: £606.84
- Coventry: £575.12
- Aberdeen: £555.88
- Brighton and Hove: £536.12
- Sheffield: £536.12
- Belfast: £532.48
- Norwich: £530.92
- Wolverhampton: £523.12
- Gloucester: £514.28
- Manchester: £497.12
- Glasgow: £490.36
- Southampton: £469.56
- Cambridge: £455
- Leeds: £455
- Edinburgh: £453.44
- Cardiff: £434
- Portsmouth: £408.72
- Plymouth: £399.88
- Wrexham: £382.20