Freeze on day of purchase? New labelling from Sainsbury’s will help stop £2 billion of food being wasted

freezing guidelines on pack

On food products all over the UK, the same advice is displayed on pack – freeze on day of purchase. Yet thanks to a new initiative, by Sainsbury’s in partnership with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), this is about to change.

New labelling currently being rolled out across Sainsbury's stores around the country will advise customers to freeze food as soon as possible up to the product's use by date. WRAP research shows that 60% of us believe that food has to be frozen on the day of purchase, which is reinforced by current labelling. Changing this advice will help stop over-cautious shoppers from throwing away up to 800,000 tonnes of perfectly good food each year.

Beth Hart, Sainsbury's head of product technology for fresh and frozen said: "The 'freeze on day of purchase' advice needs to be changed as there is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use by date.

"As a large UK retailer, we have a responsibility to minimise food waste where possible and this new labelling will certainly help us do that. As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, 'how does the product know which day I purchased it on?'"

Research from Sainsbury's shows that 62 per cent of the UK regularly uses the freezer to lengthen the life of food, while in a separate study by WRAP, only 21 per cent of people interviewed had frozen food nearing its use by date during the past week. For this reason, it is hoped that the new labelling, which has been drawn up in consultation with WRAP will have a great impact.

WRAP figures show that UK households waste around 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink every single year, most of which could have been eaten, costing families up to  £50 every single month. WRAP believes that using the freezer more effectively could have a positive impact on customers' wallets and the environment.

Andrew Parry, Consumer Food Waste Prevention Manager, WRAP said: "Changing the guidance to freeze before the use by date is a welcome move. Now we can all look in our fridges and know that we can freeze most items which are about to go out of date and enjoy them at a later time. In doing so we can expect to reduce the amount of out of date food we throw away, which will in turn save us all money."

WRAP research has also shown that most freezers are only three quarters full, and making more use of our freezers is one of the best ways to reduce food waste. This month Love Food Hate Waste is recognising the freezer as a kitchen hero, providing a range of helpful tips:

Top freezer tips from Love Food Hate Waste

  • Fruit: slice and freeze lemons then use them straight from the fridge in iced drinks. Frozen grapes and strawberries also make novel ice cubes which also taste great.
  • Potatoes: simply parboil (boil for about 5 mins) and freeze them for later. When you want them thaw overnight and roast the next day. Mashed potato also freezes well.
  • Chillies: few of us manage to use up all those chillies in the packet so freeze them whole and just take out as much as you need and chop whilst they are still frozen.
  • Cauliflower or broccoli: make a big batch of cauliflower or broccoli cheese and then put it into individual portions and freeze it. It's great if the veg isn't going to last much longer and you have a large amount left. It's really great with garlic in the cheese sauce and topped with breadcrumbs and parsley!
  • Milk: if you know you're not going to use milk before the date freeze it. and then when you need some milk thaw in the fridge. Plastic containers are okay for freezing milk in, but the milk will expand so pour out a small amount (for a cup of tea for example) to allow for this, shake well before using
  • Cheese: try grating Cheddar cheese before freezing and use as toppings on pizza or shepherd's pie from frozen. Stilton can be frozen without grating and is just as good as fresh!
  • Leftover roast meat: such as chicken and lamb. Thaw in the fridge and use as normal, in a risotto or curry.
  • Bread: use straight from frozen as toast or make sandwiches for work - by lunchtime they'll be defrosted. Bang the loaf on the work surface before putting it in the freezer to help the frozen slices come apart more easily.

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