Tuesday April 7th is World Health Day.Food safety

This year the focus is on food safety. Eating leftovers can be a great way of making a meal go further, but many of us aren’t confident to know when food is safe to eat. Leftovers are the second most wasted food in New Zealand with around 10,000 tonnes of leftovers thrown away every year. That’s equivalent to $100 million worth of food that we went to the effort of buying, cooking and then throwing away. So here are our top tips to help you waste less and feel more confident that your leftovers are safe to eat.

  • If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90-120 minutes) cover them and eat  within two days.
  • If you are going to freeze them, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once foods are in the freezer, they can be safely stored there forever – but the quality will deteriorate over time so it’s best to eat within three months.
  • Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge over night, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway. Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, once it’s cooked it can be refrozen.
  • Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
  • Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.
  • Check the ‘use by’ dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its ‘use by’ to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily. Food can be frozen right up to it’s use-by. Once food with a ‘use by’ date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as ‘eat within 3 days of opening’.

Don’t forget stews and casseroles often taste better the next day as it allows the flavours to develop.

Go to Food Smart for more information on safe food handling or check out Love Food Hate Waste NZ on Facebook for recipe ideas for leftovers.