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Sub-Zero Study Says U.S. Families Discard $728 In Groceries Each Year
Nov 25, 2003
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A recent online survey found that Americans are forced to discard U.S. $14 worth of food every week due to improper storage - and that adds up to $728 over the course of a year.

The survey was conducted by Sub-Zero Freezer Company, a premier manufacturer of residential refrigeration and wine storage.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Statistical Abstract, the average family spends $103 on groceries each week, which means that nearly 14 percent of that bill never makes it to the dinner table due to improper storage techniques. This results in dumping the equivalent of more than 21 million shopping bags full of food into landfills each year (from The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality).

"Without properly storing fresh food and leftovers, it is no surprise that families incur so much waste," said Jim Bakke, president and CEO for Sub-Zero Freezer Company and Wolf Appliance Company. "Our company has worked in refrigeration for more than 50 years, and through the announcement of our survey findings we hope to raise awareness for proper food storage, especially in advance of the holiday season when leftovers abound."

Too frequently, fresh food expires before consumed. According to the Sub-Zero survey, only 6% of Americans are able to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for as long as two weeks in their refrigerators.

"Over half of our survey participants are forced to throw out fresh fruits and vegetables in less than a week. With proper storage, you can keep that same produce fresh for at least two weeks, and even beyond," Mr. Bakke said. He explains that Sub-Zero's has a proprietary dual refrigeration system to keep fresh food fresh longer, and frozen food frozen longer.

More than three-fourths of surveyed Americans eat leftovers at least once a week, and 17% keep food for four or more days, increasing the risk of illness.

"Prepared food should not be kept more than four days before it is consumed," said Sub-Zero and Wolf Executive Chef Eric Rupert. "The sooner you eat leftovers, the better the quality in terms of taste, nutrition, and safety."

Safely Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

Refrigerators are put to the test during the holidays more than any other time of year. According to the National Turkey Federation, 91% of Americans consume an average of 690 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Leftover turkey can be enjoyed for three to four days if refrigerated, and three to four months if frozen. Holiday turkey leftovers are most often enjoyed as a sandwich or added to a soup or stew.

To ensure proper food storage:

  • Refrigerate turkey as soon as possible after serving

  • Remove stuffing from the bird and store separately

  • Monitor temperatures of refrigeration zones - set refrigerators at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers at zero degrees Fahrenheit

  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold - refrigerate leftovers within two hours

  • Always cool food before storing in the refrigerator so its warmth does not raise the internal temperature

  • Wrap refrigerator-stored food in foil, plastic wrap, plastic bags, or airtight containers to keep it from drying out

  • Wrap freezer-stored food in freezer-quality wrap, plastic bags, or containers

  • Always label stored food with contents and date

  • Do not refreeze food that has been thawed unless it is cooked first

  • Use specially designed compartments for dairy foods, deli foods and fresh produce - these compartments maintain temperature and humidity levels that keep specific food groups fresh

  • Fresh vegetables should be washed, dried, and stored in air-tight containers before refrigeration

  • Fresh fruits should be washed and dried; aromatic fruits such as strawberries and peaches should be stored in plastic bags before refrigeration

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