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Bad eggs or mouldy vegetables, the Food Standards Agency home food fact checker advises on what is and isn't safe to eat

Most common questions about food safety

Food Standards Authority home food fact checker

HAVE you bought extra food during lockdown and not been sure how long it lasts or whether or not it is safe to eat? The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released a list of the most commonly asked questions about food.

Items include rice and whether you can reheat it. The advice is that cooked rice must be kept in the fridge and eaten within 24 hours, after it has been heated through thoroughly once again.

You can freeze rice but again must cook it thoroughly after defrosting. The agency advises against reheating takeaway rice

When it comes to eggs, the FSA does not advise using the egg float test to tell if eggs are safe or not and says that eggs are safe to eat for a couple of days after the best before date.

The advice is to store eggs in the fridge and not expose them to extreme temperature changes, which increases the risk of salmonella.

Eggs can be frozen and used safely at a later date, if they are cracked first and put into a container - you can even separate the yolk from the white and freeze them separately.

Brown bananas, wrinkly apples and slightly mushy strawberries, can be eaten normally as long as they don’t contain any mould.

Wash fruit and vegetables with water before you eat them to make sure that they are clean and harmful bacteria can be removed from the outside. Food that is obviously rotten or containing mould should not be eaten.

If potatoes have sprouted, simply remove the sprouts before use. Green bits on potatoes can contain high levels of natural toxins called glycoalkaloids, which can upset the digestive system and cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. 

Parboiled potatoes or leftover cooked potatoes can be frozen and you can roast boiled potatoes straight from the freezer. Store raw, unpeeled potatoes in a cool, dark place, like a cupboard. Do not store in the fridge.

Vegetables past their best before date may become wrinkly or mushy, but are safe to eat as long as there is no visible sign of decay. Make sure to check for rotting or mould before eating.

The best before date is about quality, not safety. Food will be safe to eat after the best before date, but may not be at its best. 

Supermarket canned beans are safe to consume as they have been pre-soaked and boiled to kill any toxins, but raw beans, especially red kidney beans can be risky. You should not slow cook raw red kidney beans as it does not destroy the toxin and may increase its toxicity.

Meat can be reheated in a microwave just once and be sure that it is steaming hot all the way through before eating. When food is microwaved it can be very hot at the edges and still be cold in the centre, stirring helps to prevent this.

Previously cooked and frozen meat should only be reheated once. However, you can safely cook defrosted meat into a new meal and freeze for use another day. For example, you can use your frozen chicken in a chicken curry, and then freeze this to reheat and eat another day.

Canned food should remain fit to eat even if the can is dented, but if the denting is deep it may have a hidden split, hole or break in the seal and then the food inside should not be eaten. 

You should also avoid eating food from a visibly bulging can. If the can spurts when it is opened, this may be a result of gas build up in the food.

The length of time canned food is acceptable to eat after a best before date depend on the product, storage conditions and the brand. The advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the ‘open life’. This usually indicates where to store products and for how long.

Many canned foods intended to be cooked before eating will not pose a safety risk if eaten cold. However, this will depend on the product. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions before eating. 

For more information about food and food storage visit www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/home-food-fact-checker 

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