A recent Australian Newspoll survey commissioned by the Food Safety Information Council for Australian Food Safety Week has found Australians show little regard for food safety warnings and practices.
The study found just 55 percent of shoppers always read and comply with “use by” dates” and 45 percent heed “best before” dates.
“Frightening is not too strong a word to describe other results, including that only a third of people always read and comply with storage instructions and a meagre 14 percent always read and comply with cooking instructions,” added Food Safety Information Council chairman Dr Michael Eyles.
Consumers Should Read Packaging To Make Better Purchasing Decisions
Dr Eyles is disappointed local consumers are not taking advantage of information intended to make our food safer. He encourages consumers to read the packages of all products they purchase and make better decisions in store. These include only buying products that will be consumed or frozen by the use by date, and considering whether there is space in the fridge and freezer to accommodate new purchases.
Negating Food Storage Instructions Could Be Harmful
He added that the best before and use by dates could be negated if food storage instructions are not followed. For example, some foods can grow harmful bacteria if they’re not refrigerated after opening or kept frozen. He cautioned that products change with food trends, so customers can’t simply rely on the way they stored foods in the past.
"Read the advice on the label and you may find that the products you used to keep open in the cupboard now need to be refrigerated," he suggested.
Dr Eyles said it was “astounding” that 86 percent of people surveyed didn’t always read and follow cooking instructions. He explained that this is “far too high and creates a serious food poisoning risk, especially for poultry, minced or cubed meats, or egg products.
The research didn’t reveal all bad news though. More than eight in ten people say they put refrigerated goods in their own fridge less than 30 minutes after purchase. The remaining respondents had their cold goods in the fridge in less than an hour.
Shoppers Should Pick Up Refrigerated And Frozen Food Last
Dr Eyles explained that food poisoning bacteria could grow as refrigerated goods warm. This is particularly dangerous for deli meats, pate, salads, cut fruits, and soft cheeses that won’t be reheated.
To combat this, Dr Eyles encourages shoppers to "Pick up refrigerated and frozen food last when shopping and always take an insulated bag or cooler with you to the shops."