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Mysteries Of Food Storage

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 15, 2006

A national survey sponsored by the American Plastics Council shows what a difficult time America’s young people have in the kitchen. The Council surveyed 539 young Americans between the ages of 18-34 years old, and found things like this:

“Whether they’re heading off to college, setting up their first apartment or starting a family, many young adults are unsure of how to store food properly and may be unknowingly taking risks that could lead to food-borne illnesses," said Patty Enneking, managing director of the American Plastics Council.

Biggest kitchen mysteries —

  • One third (35%) say "how long can I keep and use leftovers?" is the single biggest kitchen mystery
  • When asked about freezer storage, 32% say knowing "what to store food in to prevent freezer burn" is the biggest mystery

Survey says a sizeable percentage of young adults commit classic kitchen don’ts. For example:

  • Leave food out on the counter to defrost (28%)
  • Store leftover food in the refrigerator uncovered (16%)
  • Microwave food in containers designed for cold food storage only (18%)

But the good news is … young adults demonstrated that they understand a few cardinal rules of food safety, storage and heating:

  • Store food in an airtight plastic container (78%)
  • Heat food in containers purchased specifically for microwave use (52%)
  • Read the container label for instructions
    on proper use (44%)

When the good news is that 44% of the respondents know to read the label, it shows why we need lots of prepared foods, pre-cooked items and fresh-cut produce. And lots of education. What source most influences young people? Well the survey found that some things never change:

Moms reign over all other sources, including the product’s label, as the most trusted resource for food preparation and storage advice. The younger end of the spectrum, 18-24 year olds, are more likely to ask their moms for help (46%) compared to 28% of those aged 25-34.

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