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New campaign to seek out UFOs in north London's freezers

Dec 01, 2009
The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) launches Freezer Expedition to seek out frozen foods as part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

New research* into freezer use in UK homes from Love Food Hate Waste, reveals a third of us find food in the freezer we had forgotten about or cannot identify, called "Unidentified Frozen Objects".

We keep £860m worth of food in our freezers, but doubts about freezing a wider variety of foods, and a belief that freezing is only for long-term storage, means that we are not making the most of our freezers. Worse still, the food that is thrown away could often have been frozen instead!

The run up to Christmas is when the freezer comes into its own and NLWA's Love Food Hate Waste campaign is calling on us all to find out what is inside our freezers. By making meals from what is already there we can save money, postpone our regular shop and make room for new festive foods, homemade meals and those little leftovers.

Chair of the NLWA, Cllr. Clyde Loakes, explains:

"The Freezer Expedition is a journey into the unknown for some of us. New findings show that most of us would never freeze traditional Christmas foods if we've over catered, even though freezing means we can choose to eat them later, or avoid the Christmas queues by doing our food shopping well in advance. So NLWA's  Love Food Hate Waste campaign is giving myth busting advice on what we can freeze - and it's practically everything"

TV personality Sue Perkins is also calling on householders to join the Freezer Expedition at lovefoodhatewaste.com and make space for all those festive leftovers that are simply too good to throw away; Christmas cake, leftover turkey, potatoes and any extra stilton are just a few of the foods that can be frozen for another time.

Based on 2008 figures, UK households are about to spend more than £520m** on Christmas dinner alone this year. So, starting the season with more room to freeze our Christmas foods and leftovers should help us all save money and reduce our food waste.

You can watch Sue Perkins at lovefoodhatewaste.com taking part in her very own Freezer Expedition and discovering practical tips as she goes.  As Sue says: "The freezer is just like a 'pause' button to help save foods - it's no longer a dark, distant place to me."
The Love Food Hate Waste website also features a new range of freezable family meals to make at home, many of which can be cooked straight from frozen for convenience over the holidays.

Top freezer tips from Love Food Hate Waste:

1. Food can be frozen at any point up to the end of the "use by" date

2. If you defrost raw meat and then cook it thoroughly, you can freeze it again. Just take care to defrost thoroughly and re-heat until piping hot

3. Freezing fresh foods and home-cooked meals is a great way to save food for later, sealing in the goodness until you are ready to eat it - freeze in portions or "meals"

4. Almost any food (including hard cheese, milk, mashed potato, bread, homemade meals and cakes) can be frozen - check the website for more information

5. Cooked food should be cooled before transferring into the freezer

6. It is safe to defrost food at room temperature, provided you intend to eat it as soon as it's thawed. Or you can defrost food in the fridge overnight if you plan to eat it within two days

7. Labelling and dating foods before you put them in the freezer will help avoid 'UFOs' in the future

8. You can prepare ahead for Christmas by parboiling your potatoes and freezing them

9. If you're going away this Christmas don't forget you can freeze any unused milk before you go

10. If you're struggling to get your portions right why not go to lovefoodhatewaste.com and use our portion calculator to find out exactly how much you need to cook for Christmas dinner

 * Freezer habits & attitudes quantitative survey; Freezer usage in-depth study & review October 2009

** Nielsen Homescan data based on Christmas foods 2008 spending figures

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

The 'UFO' campaign is part of a broader Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which is running across the seven North London boroughs of: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest between June 2009 and February 2010 and includes a series of roadshows and presentations.

The campaign is being funded by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and includes: kitchen workshops, online food waste diaries and a dedicated website full of information.

Information is being produced for restaurants and retailers who want to get behind the campaign and presentations are available for community groups on request from: post@nlwa.gov.uk.

Information about the national Love Food Hate Waste campaign, including food facts, hints and tips is available at:  www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) was established in 1986 and is the waste disposal authority for Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. This means its primary function is to arrange the transport and disposal of waste collected by these boroughs. It is the second largest waste disposal authority in the country, measured by tonnage.

Key facts from the Love Food Hate Waste campaign:

  • since the Love Food Hate Waste campaign launched, 2 million homes are feeling the benefits of cutting back on the food they waste, saving £400 million
  • £12 billion worth of food and drink is thrown out every year in UK homes. Householders are throwing out on average £480/year. This increases to £680/year for families with children- or £50 per month
  • we throw food and drink out for two main reasons: 1) we let it go off, either completely untouched, or opened/started but not finished, costing £6.7 billion per year.; 2) we cook or prepare too much, costing us £4.8 billion per year
  • in terms of weight: 5.3 million tonnes of food and drink is thrown out every year in the UK - such as cheese, milk & juice, meat and fish, fruit and vegetables and bread. This figure does not include anything we wouldn't normally eat, like peelings, bones, or crusts
  • wasting food has a huge environmental impact - if we stopped throwing food and drink away, it would save the equivalent of at least 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That's like taking 1 in every 4 cars off our roads
  • food and drink waste is damaging to the environment because producing, storing and getting the food to our homes uses a lot of energy and resources - all of which are wasted when it gets binned. And most of this reaches landfill sites where it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas
     

General Footnote:

For more information on the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, visit: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

Key findings of WRAP's recent research on the nature, scale and causes of household food waste can be found at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/retail/food_waste/index.html

WRAP helps individuals, businesses and local authorities to reduce waste and recycle more, making better use of resources and helping to tackle climate change.

Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by Government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP's work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.

More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk