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Barbeques, Use by Dates and What You Should Know

I've just watched an interesting programme on tv about the amount of food we waste. Apparently the average family in UK throws away one third of everything they buy,and 40% of that is fresh food. You know, that good stuff we are recommended to eat five portions of every day.

Somehow the makers of the documentary determined every DAY we bin

2.8 million tomatoes
4.4 million apples
5.1 million potatoes
70 million slices of bread
1.2 million sausages
1 million slices of ham

This waste goes into Landfill sites, which creates methane gas and contributes to global warming. If you consider this is happening in all developed countries worldwide, the waste is enormous.

So, why do we throw so much food away?

Apparently it has much to do with our lack of knowledge on how to store products, and anxiety and confusion as to the meaning of the Best Before By, Sell By and Use By dates, which appear on the packaging.

It seems the Best Before By date is merely a guideline, and is more about the quality of the product rather than safety.

However, scientific studies have revealed the Use By and Sell By dates are more significant. There is a real health risk to some people if they are ignored.

Globally, ten children die every minute from malnutrition and yet supermarkets throw mountains of food away because of damaged packaging, lost food labels on tins, and expired Best Before dates.

These products may not be saleable to retailers, but someone, somewhere could use them. I'm sure the starving millions, or people on low incomes would be grateful for the goods.

The supermarkets say the proportion of food they throw away is minimal compared to the amount they carry, but is it too much? Collectively, each "minimal" combines to make a "substantial" amount over time, and are the supermarkets making us neurotic about the dates just to boost sales? After all, if we bin everything just past its Best Before date, won't we just go out and buy more?

No-one wants to get food poisoning and clearly certain foods like dairy and fresh meat, fish, and poultry need careful observation, but even then, provided the food is stored and cooked properly, much could be eaten.

One common cause of food poisoning is Campylobacter. This common bacteria causes fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea, but thorough hygiene, plus careful storage, refrigeration and cooking of food can prevent this affecting anyone who is fit and healthy. Susceptible people are the very young, the old and those with a lowered immune system.

Bacteria cannot withstand high temperatures so it is particularly important to cook food thoroughly, especially with barbecues. Many people manage to burn the meat on the outside and yet it remains uncooked in the middle.

Another thing to watch out for is the cross contamination of raw and cooked food. You must NEVER use the same plate or chopping board, and also if you marinate the meat, leave it covered in the refrigerator rather than outside.

Also, you must ensure you wash your salad correctly.

Of course the absolute best way to ensure your health is not at risk from dodgy food is to boost your immune system by deliberately giving yourself bacteria. This time, however, you take a daily dose of good, friendly, healthy, probiotic bacteria. These are the good guys, which everyone needs.

The next time you go shopping, instead of wasting money on too much food destined for the landfill, might it not be wiser to invest in some active probiotics and your good health instead?