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Food businesses urged to put leftover food to good use


23 Mar 2020


Another challenge for cafes and restaurants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is the difficulty they are having in managing their stocks of perishable ingredients, particularly if they were holding large amounts before Government advice was issued to close ‘eat-in’ establishments.

These businesses may face letting significant amounts of food go to waste due to uncertain levels of trade.

Horsham District Council is advising businesses to make arrangements now regarding food that may go out of date, especially if there are alternative ways of storing them.

“First and foremost, food must not be used if it has passed its use-by date,” a spokesperson for the Council’s Environmental Health & Licensing team said.  “This is different from a ‘best-before date’ that some products display, as the use-by date is an important aspect of food safety. After this date, the manufacturer cannot confirm that the food is still safe to eat.

“However, many foods can be frozen if they still have a number of days left on their durability.

“You should make a note or put a label on the product of the date you froze the product and then make sure to use it within a day or two of taking it out of the freezer, but ensure that it is thoroughly defrosted before you try to cook it.

“It’s worth noting that fresh vegetables can be prepared and cooked- or blanched-off before being frozen, so they can be used as ingredients in other dishes later.”

Other simple methods of ensuring the quality of foods during storage in the fridge or freezer include making sure that they are effectively sealed in airtight containers or tightly wrapped in cling film. Manufacturers’ instructions for use on the products’ labels should be followed at all times.

The spokesperson added: “100 million tonnes of food is wasted by the hospitality sector each year, so tackling this is important even without the impact of the coronavirus.  However, if businesses are trying new specialist methods of food preservation, such as vacuum-packing or drying food, then they are advised to discuss their plans with the Council’s Environmental Health team before they start doing it.”

In the event that a food business cannot find ways of using or storing food safely, then they should make efforts to provide food that is still in date to local food banks.

Horsham Matters has asked that affected food businesses contact them directly on 0300 1240204 to arrange collection, or use the donation drop-off boxes outside their Micah Offices in Blacthford Road, Horsham. Food will be accepted between 9.30am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, but donors are advised that they should not leave items outside of these hours as they will be unable to use them.

If you have any questions about food safety matters, please contact Environmental Health & Licensing on 01403 215 403 or at publichealth.licensing@horsham.gov.uk.