Making the most of your festive food

Last minute Christmas cancellations may have left you with more food than you expected this year – don’t forget your food safety training when you’re dealing with leftovers at home.

Storing in the fridge

  • Cool cooked foods quickly. Bring the temperature down within two hours by leaving covered food in a cool area, and then placing in the fridge.
  • Protect cooked food while storing. Keep cooked food well covered, ideally in plastic lidded storage boxes, and away from raw meats.
  • Check your fridge temperature. Make sure your fridge temperature is between 0-5°C and that is not overfilled as this will prevent cool air circulating properly.
  • Use cooked foods within three days of cooking.

Storing in the freezer

  • Cool cooked foods quickly. Bring the temperature down within two hours by leaving covered food in a cool area.
  • Wrap well and label with the contents and the date you place it in the freezer.
  • To defrost, use the microwave defrost setting, or place overnight in fridge, away from raw meats.
  • Ideally, use within three months, as the texture and flavour may start to deteriorate after this.

Reheating leftovers

The key point to remember when storing cooked food is to avoid the DANGER ZONE -that means keeping foods below 8°C or above 63°C, to minimise the chance of bacterial growth.

As long as you follow the rules for storing leftovers safely, they should be good to use up in a new meal. When you reheat, the food will be passing through the Danger Zone, so make sure your food is piping hot before you serve. With a food thermometer, you can check it reaches at least 70°C for two minutes, or 65°C for ten minutes.

To learn more about food safety, in the home or in a catering setting, why not take a Safer Food Group training course? All of our courses are available online, and can be accessed immediately after purchase with a credit or debit card. PDF certificates are available upon successful completion of the course assessment.

Eating well for a happy Christmas

We all know that what we eat plays a significant role in how we feel. So, how do we make the most of Christmas treats whilst still making our bodies feel good? Our nutritionist has given us some easy tips for food that helps us feel good over the festive period

Beat tiredness

Rescue the nut crackers from the back of the drawer; eating a wide variety of nuts and seeds is a great way to boost the nutrients that counteract fatigue and provide an energy lift, including potassium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and folate, and vitamin E. We know that nuts are high in calories – so nuts in shells, often sold in grocers and supermarkets at Christmas are a great choice – because they’re fiddly, you’ll be far more likely to stop after a few. As with any foods, make sure you’re aware of any allergies before you offer nuts to guests.

Keep everything moving

Festive overindulgence can be the cause of constipation, particularly if you are eating a lot of fatty and rich foods that your body is not accustomed to. To get everything moving again, turn to a Christmas dinner favourite that are full of fibre – Brussels Sprouts. You might not persuade the kids to eat these little bundles of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but that will leave even more for you to enjoy!

Stay calm

Let’s face it – we’ve not had an easy year, and for some of us the pressure to create a ‘perfect Christmas’ may feel overwhelming. Some nutrients have been shown to help reduce anxiety – including Omega-3 found in oily fish and Vitamin D found in eggs. So setting yourself up for the big day with a breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is not just a luxurious treat – it’s a sensible way to take care of yourself.

Fight the bugs

A strong immune system is key to battling the effects of seasonal viruses – and now it’s especially important to help your body look after itself. Look for festive favourite fruit to keep you fighting fit – the satsuma from your Christmas stocking is great, and so are cranberries, made into a home made sauce (not too much sugar!).

If you want to learn more about nutrition, including information on menu planning in a professional setting, have a look at our Level 2 Nutrition course. And from everyone at the Safer Food Group, we wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Future trends in the food industry

It is no exaggeration to say that the last 6 months have been the most unusual we have experienced. Underlined with uncertainty and fear that has invaded our home and professional lives, we have all done our best to adapt to the new circumstances and work towards a future we were not expecting.

Some sectors of the food industry have had an incredibly tough time – for instance the number of vacancies in catering advertised in July was down 61% compared to 2019, reflecting the fall out from closed venues, reduced capacity and cancelled events. Some sectors however, have managed to thrive – adaptable players in food manufacture have been responsive in light of supply issues during the early stages of lockdown, choosing new products, production methods or packaging to meet the needs of a rapidly changing market.

So, how can we be more prepared for the next 12 months in the food industry? We look at three key predicted trends, and consider their potential impact.

Reversing the obesity crisis

We have already seen the early signs of an upcoming government initiative to change the course of the obesity crisis. Research published by Diabetes UK has demonstrated the link between lockdown and increased rates of obesity in children, and an evidence review by Public Health England strongly suggest that outcomes of Covid-19 are worsened in obese adults.

It remains to be seen what role the food industry will play in battling the obesity crisis, but now is a great time for businesses to plan for the future and consider ways they can demonstrate their commitment to the health and well being of their customers. These may include:

  • reformulating products to lower fat, sugar and salt levels
  • increasing plant based ranges
  • training staff in good nutrition to enable good menu planning
  • publishing nutritional values on menus and / or websites to encourage healthy choices
  • creating healthy eating promotions and recipes

Strengthening the Supply chain

Initial stages of lockdown exposed some weaknesses in the food supply chain – however, manufacturers and food retailers worked tirelessly and effectively to get products back into stores and homes. Despite this being an unprecedented situation, that early period forced food businesses to reassess the suitability of supply processes.

A number of trends have begun to emerge from this work, and we will continue to see changes throughout the next 12 months, emphasised by the potential supply issues caused by Brexit. The trends have included:

  • a greater emphasis on local, seasonal produce – with the additional benefit of decreased environmental impact
  • a more considered and collaborative use of resources in food production – for instance sharing plant facilities or warehousing space, or multi purposing production lines
  • increased scrutiny on safe production processes, including good health and well being of industry workers in light of covid spikes centred around production facilities.

Now more than ever, good practice at all stages within the food chain will place business in the best position to take advantage of new market opportunities, maximising their potential to survive and grow.

Rising success of the small food business

The economic situation is undoubtedly tough for all food businesses, especially those without a corporate safety net to keep the cash flow going. However, lockdown has demonstrated how agile and adaptable small businesses have been and continue to be as the rules and landscape shift on a weekly business

Some great examples of small business agility have been:

  • Pubs and restaurants adjusting their eat in offering to takeaways or meal box options
  • Food retailers taking their sales out into their community, using church halls, delivery services, or even repurposed ice cream vans to get supplies to vulnerable people
  • Businesses recognising and solving community problems – including the micro brewery who provided a reciprocal collection service for food bank items donated by customers of their delivery service. Community engagement has been a strong theme for a lot of food businesses, giving them the opportunity to really get to know and build relationships with their customers, and there is no doubt a number of these initiatives will continue and thrive once the threat of the pandemic has lessened.
  • Artisan producers joining forces to create ‘lockdown luxury’ boxes – sharing storage, packing and delivery resources to reduce cost and environmental impact and increase customer base

Small businesses can suffer from higher proportional overheads, without the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies. However, they often have the benefit of entrepreneurial spirit, an adaptable and loyal staff body and the agility to change direction quickly and make change happen. In these adverse times, these skills will continue to be invaluable and as circumstances develop, the rise of small businesses is very welcome .