People appear to have improved food safety behaviors related to reducing energy bills and saving money, according to a survey.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) Consumer Insights Tracker found 13 percent of participants turned off a fridge and/or freezer containing food in November compared to 18 percent in October.

One in five changed the settings on their fridge or freezer so food was kept at a warmer temperature versus one in four in the previous month.

A total of 23 percent of participants lowered the cooking temperature for food compared to 29 percent in October and 23 percent also reduced the length of time that food is cooked, which is down from 30 percent in the previous month.

Overall, 58 percent of respondents used cheaper cooking methods such as a microwave, air fryer or slow cooker instead of an oven to heat or cook food compared to 67 percent in October.

The latest monthly survey was conducted online in mid-November with 2,000 adults in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Emily Miles, FSA chief executive, said: “Our evidence shows that people are finding ways to save money where they can, including buying food closer to its use-by date, buying long-life foods, and switching to cheaper brands. To make food go further, we’re encouraging people to follow our tips for keeping food safe, including keeping fridges on to prevent bacteria from multiplying. We also recommend freezing food on or before its use-by date if you’re not going to use it.”

Food prices and other issues
Seven in 10 consumers reported taking at least one action to save money on food for Christmas 2022. A quarter had bought reduced-in-price items close to their use-by date; 17 percent had bought less fresh food and more long-life items; 23 percent bought less food than usual for Christmas, and a third changed to cheaper brands.

Concerns about food shopping for Christmas and New Year have significantly increased compared with November 2021.

This year, 81 percent were concerned about food prices compared to 62 percent in November 2021 and 55 percent had concerns about food availability, which is up from 48 percent in 2021. Half of the respondents were worried about the quality of food compared to 37 percent last year and 41 percent were concerned about the safety of food compared to 31 percent in November 2021. 

Just less than a quarter of people had skipped or cut down the size of meals because they did not have enough money to buy food in the past month. This is lower than in October 2022 but around the same level as November 2021.

The figure for those who had eaten food past its use-by date because they couldn’t afford to buy more declined this past month but was still mentioned by a quarter of those surveyed.

The majority of participants felt confident that those involved in the supply chain in the UK ensure that food is safe to eat. 

In the latest survey, 38 percent of respondents felt worried about the safety of food produced in the UK, compared to 52 percent concerned about the safety of imported food. A total of 41 percent felt concerned about the quality of food made in the UK, compared to 54 percent anxious about the quality of imported food.

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