We all know the weekly grocery shop can be costly sometimes, but new research suggests we are sacrificing our family's food safety in order to cut back on household expenses.
The message of Food Safety Week, which has launched today, is: It's not worth the risk!
A report by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed that some parents are endangering their family's health by turning a blind eye to 'use by' dates in order to save money.
On the face of it, it may seem like a savvy way to rein in your spending, but eating leftover food and ignoring food packaging signs can affect the health of your family in many ways, the FSA said.
The majority (97%) of the respondents said they fork out more cash on their average weekly shop now than in 2009, and half of those attempt to make their food go further by storing leftovers.
According to the research, more shoppers than before take no notice of the use by dates, and some even stash leftover food in the fridge for longer than the advised length of time - which is two days.
The FSA hopes to bring awareness of food safety through this one-week campaign and is also asking people not to allow tight budgets to let them take risks with their family's health.
Be smart with your leftovers
Bob Martin, a food safety expert at the FSA, said: "With most of us seeing our weekly shopping bills increase over the last few years, we are all looking for ways to get the most out of our shopping budget.
"Using leftover food is a good way of making our meals go further. However, unless we're careful, there's a chance we can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling them properly. During Food Safety Week we are encouraging people to view their fridge as their friend and make the most of leftovers whilst staying safe."
Previous studies have shown that there are an estimated one million incidents of food poisoning each year across the country.
This figure rises particularly in the summer season, with a further 120,000 cases between June and August.
Experts say this is partly to do with the warmer weather, which encourages bacteria to thrive quicker than when it's cooler. This highlights the importance of storing leftovers in the fridge as soon as you've dished up and tummies are full.
FSA-approved advice on food safety
If you feel you can employ better ways of keeping your family healthy and safe from illnesses, while not breaking the bank of course, then follow these simple instructions:
- Make sure you cool leftover food as quickly as possible, ideally within 90 minutes. Cover them, stash them in the fridge, but two days is your limit!
- Ensure that your fridge is working at the right temperature - it should be below 5C
- Freeze leftovers if you can, but cool them first to minimise temperature fluctuation in your freezer
- Food stored here should be eaten within three months
- Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout
Emma Marsh, community partnership manager at the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, said: "Making the most of the food we buy is increasingly important to us all especially with ever tighter household budgets, but we're still unnecessarily wasting 20% of the food we buy.
"Food is there to be eaten, so this Food Safety Week let's enjoy our leftovers and do it safely."