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

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently  

Shia LaBeouf to Luis Suárez: Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Ellen E Jones
Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay's Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” in March  

My best and worst stories of 2014

Simmy Richman
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015