Most in US use nose to determine food freshness, says survey

David Bellm

January 29, 2014

3 Min Read
Most in US use nose to determine food freshness, says survey

Have you ever smelled food in your refrigerator to check if it's still good before eating? While it's not very scientific, it's something that 90 percent of Americans do. And, if you're a woman, you are more likely to ask someone else to do the dirty work of "sniffing" for you. Those are some of the findings from a recent survey conducted on behalf of Plastics Make it Possible(SM), an initiative sponsored by the plastics industries of the American Chemistry Council.


So, why all of the sniffing? A majority of respondents said they are only somewhat confident that they know how long cooked food will last in the fridge before it goes bad. In fact, two-thirds wish their food could talk and tell them when it was ready to be thrown out!


While we can't yet purchase plastic wrap that detects food bacteria (although it is in development), nearly 80 percent of Americans put their food in air-tight plastic containers to keep their food fresher longer. Plastic containers and plastic wrap also help save money by extending the life of food as well as offering numerous ways to portion and store food so that leftovers can be enjoyed later, rather than throwing excess food away. For example, new hermetically sealed plastic milk containers and breathable plastic wraps for salad, lettuce and spinach products help to dramatically extend the shelf life of these nutritious foods. And some new reusable plastic storage containers allow for controlled airflow underneath the food to prolong freshness once a package has been opened.


While packaged food products should have expiration dates, one of the most exciting innovations in plastic packaging is the upcoming introduction of labels that will change color to indicate when a food item is no longer fresh or to indicate that it has reached an unsafe temperature.


"Plastic containers and wrap offer so much flexibility in the kitchen," said Holly Clegg, best-selling trim&TERRIFIC® Freezer Friendly Meals cookbook author and entertainment expert. "In today's economy, people are doing everything they can to get the most out of every meal. By properly storing food in individual containers, I can cook once and enjoy meals for a week. And I also don't worry about buying fresh fruit and vegetables because I know that I can make them last as long as possible if they're stored correctly. This saves a lot of time and money."

Plastic packaging has become so essential that 93 percent of Americans feel something would be missing from their holidays without plastic food containers and wrap. Here are the top five things they would miss most if they weren't able to use plastics:


-- Air-tight storage
-- Being able to see what is in the container
-- Easy freezing or re-heating
-- Keeping leftovers longer

-- Spill-resistant travel with food


The survey was conducted by TNS Global in September 2009 to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults aged 18+.


SOURCE: Plastics Make it Possible; American Chemistry Council


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