Everything you need to know about: Food Safety Week

4 July 2016

Food Safety Week? What's that all about? Sit tight and I'll tell you all you need to know..

In the UK we throw away a whopping 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year. If we all stopped wasting food the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

There are two main reasons why we throw away good food and most of us do it: we either buy or make too much or we don't use it in time.

Research from the FSA (Food Standards Agency) tells us that people can be confused about the difference between ‘Use By’ and Best Before’ dates, that they don’t always know what can be safely cooked or frozen, and that some people are taking risks with their family's health to make food go further.

So this year the FSA is focusing its annual Food Safety Week (Mon 4 to Sun 10 July) on ways in which we can all waste less food - safely.

But there’s also a bigger picture. With the global population set to rise to over 9.5 billion by 2050 there are huge pressures facing the world’s food system. We don't yet know what the future will bring for food, but we do know that business as usual is not an option. And we know that we can all contribute to a better food future by reducing the amount of food we waste.

Food waste is a global issue; according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) about one third of the global food production is lost or wasted annually.

So what's being done about it? Well for starters, WRAP's Courtauld 2025 agreement is an ambitious voluntary agreement that brings together organisations across the food system – from producer to consumer – to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable. It aims to reduce the resource intensity of the UK’s food and drink by one-fifth, saving £20 billion in 10 years. Sounds good right?

But its doesn't stop there. Small changes will make a big difference, and everyone can play their part. Almost 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes. Throughout Food Safety Week, the FSA will be highlighting how we can all reduce waste, save money and provide safe food for our loved ones. Look out for their hints and tips on what to do with leftovers and ways to eat, cook or freeze food by the ‘Use By’ date. We'll be sharing lots of these on our own social channels.

There will be a particular focus on meat as meat and fish waste together cost a staggering £2.1 billion a year. They contribute to 570,000 tonnes of waste and around 300,000 is avoidable (200,000 tonnes unavoidable e.g. bones).

It's not just us folks at home either - businesses also have a role to play. WRAP research shows that the UK manufacturing and retail sector wastes 1.9 million tonnes of food and drink a year with 1.1 million tonnes of this avoidable. The FSA will be speaking to businesses to find out what they are doing to reduce food waste and what more can be done.

And of course the FSA will be looking at what Government can do to help. This Wednesday 6 July Neighbourly will be hosting and speaking at an event to bring together retailers, charities, innovative thinkers and grassroots organisations to discuss the challenges that they face with regards to food redistribution. We're very much looking forward to sharing the results of this session with you.

Meanwhile, enjoy the content we'll be sharing and happy Food Safety Week!

– Jane | Content Manager