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In the UK, One in Three Will Ignore the “Used By” Dates on Food

Update Date: Jun 10, 2013 11:32 AM EDT

Bacteria and contamination are often to blame for food poisoning. While some degree of contamination and infections are caused by poor sanitary regulations at factories, a new survey found that some cases of food poisoning could be attributed to consumers' poor judgment. According to a survey conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), one in three Britons admitted that he/she ignored the use by dates on their foods, which would severely jeopardize health.

The FSA reported that there are about 1.7 million cases of food poisoning within the United Kingdom per year. The most common type of bacterial infection is campylobacter, which afflicts around 460,000 people within the nation and leads to around 100 deaths per year. Based on the findings from a recent survey, this number could be lowered significantly if people changed certain behaviors.

The survey found that one in three people stated that they would and did consume food that has fallen on the ground while one in five reported that they did not wash their hands before they prepared their meals. A whopping 85 percent of people revealed that they determined the safety of their foods by using a sniff test while 68 percent would also use a visual color test. The FSA stressed that these two tests cannot effectively inform people about the safety of the produce and that the use by date should be followed more frequently. Despite providing a use by date, over 40 percent of the people surveyed stated that they ate products way past the date.

"By not washing their hands before preparing food at home, or ignoring 'use by' dates, people could be setting themselves and their friends or family up for a bout of really unpleasant illness," commented the food safety expert with the FSA, Bob Martin.

For more information on how to determine whether or not food is safe to eat, the FSA has created a 'Kitchen Check' page on its website.  

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