Millions of adults happy to eat out of date food to stop waste, survey claims

Research finds nearly one-third of households admit to throwing food away every week

Astrid Hall
Thursday 06 June 2019 15:57 BST
Sustainability charity WRAP has estimated that 490 million pints of milk are wasted every year in the UK
Sustainability charity WRAP has estimated that 490 million pints of milk are wasted every year in the UK (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Louise Thomas

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Millions of British adults are happy to eat out of date food, a study has found.

Researchers who polled 2,000 adults found that people would comfortably eat cheese 10 days after its “best before” date, bread five days past its best and fish three days after it’s out of date.

Respondents also said they would cook raw meat three days past its use by date and use butter as many as 10 days later.

Despite this, the research commissioned by Arla Cravendale, found more than half of UK households still wished fresh food lasted longer, as fears about food waste continue to rise.

And nearly one-third of UK households admitted they end up throwing away food on a weekly basis because it has not lasted as long as they hoped it would.

The study found milk and bread were being wasted more than any other products, in line with figures from sustainability charity WRAP, which found 490 million pints of milk are wasted every year in the UK.

Emma Stanbury from Arla Cravendale said: “It’s always a shame when things go to waste, especially when it comes to fresh foods such as milk, that haven’t lasted as long as we hoped.

“We are often told by consumers that they feel guilty when they have to pour milk away.

“However, making small changes at home means we can all help to play a part, such as switching to products that stay fresher for longer.”

The study also found just under two-thirds of respondents admitted to regularly pouring milk down the drain or chopping mouldy bits from bread because it had already gone past its best.

WRAP has estimated that using fresh filtered milk, which has a shelf life of 21 days unopened, compared to standard fresh milk that has a shelf life of 14 days unopened, can reduce the amount of household milk that is thrown away by around 80 per cent.

The Arla Cravendale research also found that food wastage is a major topic for the future of the environment, with two-thirds of Britons feeling guilty about wasting food that has gone past its best.

In an attempt to prevent food being binned, 35 per cent said they shop only as they need, buying little and often, while 29 per cent said they buy food that has a longer shelf life.

However, despite efforts to prevent food waste, six in 10 admitted that food going past its best was the main reason they would throw it away.

Just under half of those polled, via OnePoll, estimated that 10 per cent of their household groceries get thrown away every week because of this – and more than half agreed this was bad for the environment.

Kate Colquhoun, author of The Thrifty Cookbook and campaigner against food waste, said: "Food waste is still a barely discussed part of the environmental jigsaw, yet the cost to our purses and our world is vast.

"There are so many small practical things we can do to minimise the amount we each chuck out.

“When it comes to milk, it’s not just about the amount you buy, or the temperature of the fridge…fresh filtered milk simply lasts longer, making it more likely that all of it gets used, and less gets poured down the plug’”.


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