The Consumer Council Busts Some Costly Food Myths

Food Safety / Healthy Diet

With the price of a weekly grocery shop so high, the last thing we want to do is throw food out unnecessarily.  However, at times it seems unavoidable that food goes-off before we get the chance to eat it.  There are quite a few myths about storing food properly. We are going to bust a few of them and hopefully help you save a pound or two.

Room temperature storage

Myth: It’s a good idea to store all your fruit together in the same bowl

A fruit bowl can look good and might encourage us to snack healthily but many fruits such as apples and bananas produce ethylene, a natural ripening agent. When these fruits are stored together, the fruit will ripen more quickly.

Other ethylene producing fruits include melons, tomatoes and avocados. Try to store these foods apart from each other to help them last longer. 

Myth: Onions and potatoes can be stored together

As potatoes and onions are best stored in a cool, dark place, it may seem sensible to store them together. However, onions produce the same gas (ethylene) as some fruits already mentioned. This can cause potatoes to sprout and go off more quickly.  Try to store them on separate shelves and/or separate vegetable crates or baskets. 

The fridge

Myth: Fruit keeps best out of the fridge

This statement is true of some fruits like bananas and uncut pineapples. Most other fruits, including citrus, keep better when refrigerated. If you can keep your fruit bowl in the fridge (or ideally in vented storage containers) you will extend its shelf-life.

Myth: The packaging has been designed to help food last longer

Some packaging like blueberry or strawberry punnets have holes to allow airflow. Other plastic packaging like the bags used for carrots or salad leaves causes the vegetables to ‘sweat’ and go off faster. Storing these foods in brown paper bags or paper-towel lined boxes can help ward off excess moisture.

The freezer

Myth: Frozen fruit and vegetables aren’t as healthy as fresh produce

Despite the common perception that fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier, the opposite is quite often the case.  Frozen fruit and vegetables are frozen at the peak of ripeness. The cells hardly break down meaning they often contain more vitamins and minerals than fresh (which can lose their precious nutrients on the way to your plate). It’s a bonus that frozen foods are often cheaper and you can use only what you need and easily store the rest. 

Myth: There are many foods unsuitable for freezing 

Uncertainty about what can and can’t be safely frozen can be a big contributor to food waste. It may surprise you that there are only a few foods that aren’t ideal for freezing!

These foods include eggs, and vegetables with a high-water content such as lettuce, radishes or cucumber which tend to go mushy when defrosted.

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