Most Australian families vastly underestimate the amount of food they throw away each year, according to a study conducted by Panasonic Australia.
The research found that 85 per cent of homes erroneously believe they do not waste much food - despite the results showing most threw away more than $600 worth of food per year.
The study, which reviewed the food storage habits of over 500 households, is being used to encourage more households to be food-wise.
According to respondents, the food most likely to be dumped rather than used is milk, followed by lettuce, bread, tomatoes and yoghurt. On average, 42 per cent of food bought by Australian homes is fresh food with fruit being the most commonly wasted category. Respondents in the survey believed the main causes of food spoilage were rotting and mould, with 20 per cent of respondents saying leftovers from dinners were a common reason for food wastage.
Prue Sheehan, Product Marketing Manager - Whitegoods and Small Appliances, Panasonic Australia said the survey suggested that not being food-wise could actually be the biggest driver.
"Most people don't know how long common food items can be stored or even where they should be stored, meaning food is being disposed of too early. For example, 1 in 4 people choose to refrigerate fruit such as bananas - which can actually prematurely age the fruit. The majority of other fruits should be stored in the crisper drawer to keep them fresh." Sheehan said.
"Scraps and leftovers made up a large portion of food wastage, something consumers should be mindful of when preparing food, especially for this Australia Day."
Almost 1 in 3 people said they don't always check the use-by date before purchasing products - with males and 25-34 year olds the biggest offenders.
Sheehan said, while new home refrigeration technologies had probably helped, it wasn't the complete solution.
"Refrigerators are great at moderating the temperature and have separate climate compartments that make it easier than ever to safely store food," Sheehan said.
"However we still need people to think about what they're buying, cooking and storing to really help cut down on Australia's food waste bill."
- Keep fruits and vegetables stored in the separate crisper drawer to prolong their life
- Milk should always be stored in the refrigerator, but remember it can start smelling off up to five days before it is actually expired
- It is highly recommended to keep eggs in the Refrigerator rather than at room temperature
- Fresh meat should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 3 - 5 days
- Store frozen food in plastic bags and label it with a date and name
- Freeze leftover food to avoid wastage
- Avoid freezing milk, mayonnaise and sauces as this can cause them to separate
- Store potatoes at room temperature to maintain their true flavour