More than one million Brits* have food items in their fridge freezers that have been in there since 2015 or longer, according to a survey by home appliances insurer Prominence Support.
A poll of more than 1,000 UK adults by Prominence Support reveals that we are already a nation of secret stockpilers and find it difficult to empty our freezers.
One third (33%) of respondents admitted they find it hard to throw food away once they’ve frozen it and have food in their freezers that are more than a year old.
With 27.8m households in the UK, extrapolating, that’s more than nine million households with food they froze at least 12 months ago, and in many cases much longer.
Around one in seven respondents (15%) said they have freezer food that they stored more than two years old and have never got round to using, with 5% admitting that some items in their freezers were frozen at least five years – or 1,825 days – ago, well past the date when they should have been eaten or binned.
Respondents were asked what food items have been sitting at the bottom of their freezers for years, with ready meals, meats and fruits the most popular choices.
One respondent amusingly confessed there was a box in their freezer that had been there for years, and contained, ‘an unknown and disgusting looking stew that I will never eat’.
Lorraine Taylor of Prominence Support said, “We all rely on our fridge freezers and more so over the past six months, when lockdown saw people stockpiling food to avoid running out.
“Over the past week, we have started to see people stockpiling again. Freezers will be groaning once more under the weight of food, although our poll suggests many people may struggle to find any space in their freezers if they don’t do a little purging.
“It seems as a nation we like to freeze and leave – for years! In fact, many of us probably have sealed plastic bags in the deepest darkest corners of our freezer that may never see the light of day again.
“It’s reasonable to assume once we freeze food it is fine to eat for years. But, that’s not the case. While it might be safe to eat years later, it won’t necessarily look or taste nice once defrosted.
“Before cramming your freezer with more lockdown supplies, it’s worth throwing out food you know, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re never going to use – and free up some space.
“It also helps your freezer run efficiently if you don’t fill it to the point of overflowing.”
Taylor offers some advice on freezing food:
If you want to freeze vegetables then blanching (boil or steam until they are partially cooked) is a must, to slow or stop enzymatic activity that decays vegetables.
Meat should be used within three months of freezing, while bread only lasts 3-6 months, white fish and fruit six months.
Freeze these items any longer and while they will still be safe to eat, the colour, flavour and texture will deteriorate.
Don’t pack freezers too full – air must be able to circulate easily to maintain the temperature
Use the ‘fast freeze’ setting if you’re freezing large quantities.
Don’t store slightly warm foods in the freezer, as they will cause the interior temperature to rise
Place food in airtight containers or freezer bags before placing in the freezer, otherwise the cold air will dry it.
When freezing liquids, leave some space in the container to allow for expansion – don’t fill to the top
It’s always worth labelling containers with details about contents, numbers of savings and importantly the date when you froze.
Never refreeze raw meat that has defrosted. You can cook frozen meat and fish once defrosted, and then refreeze