Natalie Haynes: Thanks for the advice, but my fridge contents don't lie

Notebook: Surely food safety can be distilled into one simple rule... nuke it, and the stuff that might have killed you gets nuked, too

Share
Related Topics

Until this week, I have given little thought to the phenomenon of the food risk. I think, if pushed, I might not even have been able to decide exactly what one was. Walking blithely over a carpet of banana skins? Being Angelica Huston in The Grifters, and getting beaten up with a bag of oranges? Or eating take-away from somewhere with an unidentifiable pole of greying meat rotating in the window?

But, luckily, the Food Standards Agency has cleared things up for me, yesterday releasing a report suggesting that more of us are taking risks with our food as we feel less wealthy. We are keeping leftovers for longer in an attempt to eat them up and we're disregarding the odd use-by date to try and save money and throw less food away.

You might think that would be a good thing, since only last month, another study (this time from the Waste and Resources Action Group) found that we were still chucking away food worth £12bn a year. But apparently it is not: it's a sign that we are taking our lives in our hands with that leftover pasta. It seems that many of us are using our senses – looking at food and smelling it – to decide that it's safe to eat when it may not be.

The FSA has been quick to point out that sniffing or looking at food is a poor way of diagnosing whether it is safe to eat, since salmonella and E. coli, for example, don't smell bad. But apparently a third of us use the "if it doesn't smell of rotting eggs, it won't kill me – wait – is that vegetable green or mould green?" system to decide whether something is fit to eat or not.

Since the foods we most frequently throw out are vegetables, followed by fruit and bread, this seems like a good system to me. A manky courgette looks manky, as does a browned and soft banana. Even jaunty broccoli goes a sad brown colour. As for bread, that cleverly grows a bluey-grey beard to tell you when not to eat it. And while I see that an ageing egg is practically a hand-grenade of salmonella, even the FSA agreed last year that you could eat them a day or two after their shell-printed date, so long as cooked properly in a cake: no meringues or mousses, thank you.

The FSA has also noted that more of us get food poisoning in the summer, because germs grow more quickly in the warm weather, which presumably they are expecting us to have, just as soon as the rain and the gale force winds fade away. But surely my fridge doesn't get any warmer just because the weather does: or how would the beer still be cold? Doesn't it seem more likely that food poisoning spikes in the summer because people eat more charred-yet-uncooked meat then? I'm not ruling out the leftover potato salad as the guilty party, but the sausages look more suspicious.

Essentially, food safety can be distilled into one simple rule, which is that whatever you eat should be properly hot when you eat it (unless it is salad, or possibly ice cream): nuke it, and the stuff that might have killed you gets nuked, too.

One man, one great comeback

There can be few actors who have so entirely rehabilitated themselves in the eyes of their peers and their audience as James Corden. Corden hopped from The History Boys to Gavin and Stacey, and almost universal acclaim. Then the acclaim disintegrated with some poor choices – a weak sketch show, some leaden presenting work, and the best-forgotten Brit-flick, Lesbian Vampire Killers.

But his return to the stage in One Man, Two Guvnors – first at the National Theatre, now on Broadway – was a delight, and his charm is what makes it work, on top of an excellent script and ensemble cast. On Sunday night, winning the Tony Award for Best Actor from under the noses of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Frank Langella, James Earl Jones and John Lithgow, he seemed genuinely humbled and delighted. And so he should be: he has reminded everyone that while celebrity may be fickle, real comic talent is golden.

The lady's not for concussing

Lady Gaga is not just a global pop icon, it turns out. She is also, in essence, Robocop. During a gig in Auckland, she took a hefty blow to the head from a metal pole, as one of her dancers unhooked it from the set. She acquired concussion, briefly left the stage, then returned to sing 16 more songs.

Concussion would surely have felled a lesser performer than Gaga. One of the reasons her fans love her so profoundly is because of the affection she clearly has for them. And there's no better way to prove it than by singing through the pain.

I can only admire the rock'n'roll nature it all: she was brained by a piece of her own set, and it barely slowed her down. Justin Bieber, to give it context, was also concussed recently, in Paris. But he did it by walking into a glass wall, as though he were part budgie.

In a way, the oddest thing about this whole story is the statistical anomaly: what were the chances someone would clonk her with a pole at the exact moment she wasn't wearing a giant lobster for a hat?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would halt the charitable status enjoyed by private schools

Rosie Millard
 

Nick’s accident has been an education for my lexicon

Rebecca Armstrong
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links