Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland families throw away £350 worth of 'good food' each year

By Claire McNeilly

Cash-strapped families in Northern Ireland are throwing away over £300 worth of perfectly good food every year, it has emerged.

New research - which comes at a time when the cost of living is rising - shows that 75% of the wastage is because the food isn't eaten before the sell-by date, while 13% is down to bad planning of evening meals.

The findings arose from an investigation into shopping and food storage habits of UK households, which found that £32.1 million of uneaten food is being thrown out on a weekly basis.

Northern Ireland has emerged as one of the worst offenders, with a third of local households admitting they throw away £6.60 worth of untouched food each week.

The study also revealed that the average family here disposes of three items of food a week, wasting almost £343 a year, which is enough for several family meals out.

Among the reasons cited for throwing out perfectly good food was not having fridges set at the correct temperature resulting in food going off or freezing (the recommended temperature for fridges is between 1°C and 5°C).

Other excuses included being sucked in by buy-one-get-one -free deals (53%), cooking portions that are too large then not eating the leftovers (15%), and buying too much in the weekly shop (15%).

Almost three quarters of adults in Northern Ireland said they regularly get confused over what items belong in the fridge and what should be stored in the cupboard, with a further one in 10 adding they have no idea what temperature a fridge should be.

One in five said they wouldn't know how to change the temperature if needed.

A spokeswoman from Haier, the home appliance firm which carried out the research, said it is easy to avoid throwing out food.

"We've all been there before; bought too much food and found ourselves binning it. Our plans change, we cook too much or we lose track of when we bought it, and before we know it, it's passed its use-by date," she said.

"What many people don't realise is that storing food at the optimum temperature or in temperature-controlled compartments can really pay off.

"You could potentially save up to £60 a month by not throwing good food away and your food will taste better too. And if the use-by date is getting close, most foods can be frozen."

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