Minister: Families 'wasting food'

Families are wasting up to £50 a month by throwing away "enormous amounts of food" that is "perfectly safe" to eat, an environment minister has claimed. He has urged people to eat their left-overs and pay more attention to storage instructions.

Your view: Families 'wasting £50 per month' on food

We asked ITV News viewers on Facebook whether they agreed with environment minister Richard Benyon's comments that the average family is wasting £50 per month by throwing away "perfectly safe" food.

Here is a selection of their answers:

There are people that go through bins in supermarkets and find perfectly safe food. What annoys me too is coffee shops and other food outlets that can only display food for a few hours then the food is binned. Why can't they either sell it cheaper to customers or donate it to soup kitchens or food banks? It's a disgusting waste especially when children in our own country are starving.

– Debbie Cressey

It does worry me that the younger generations of my family and quite a few friends will not eat anything that is past its sell by date and it goes in the bin. I feel really bad about the amount I throw away too but I do try not to and I do use things that I judge OK with common sense.

– Jane Thomas

I never go off the dates in the supermarkets, I use my own judgement. I look at the item, smell it and have a tester taste. I don't know how people can waste so much in these tough times.

– Zoe Elliot

PM: Minister's food waste comments did 'not look good'

David Cameron admitted that a government minister telling families to waste less food during a time of economic troubles did "not look good."

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Environment minister Richard Benyon said during a debate in Westminster that families are throwing away "enormous amounts of food" that is "perfectly safe" to eat, leading to criticism from Labour who called his comments "out-of-touch."

Mr Cameron said the minister's comments, which were reported in the Daily Telegraph, had been misinterpreted.

He told BBC Breakfast: "The real truth here is we need to help families with their household bills.

“That is why we’re freezing the council tax for the third year in a row, that’s why we’ve delivered a tax cut for 24 million working people by lifting the amount you can earn before you start paying tax, that’s why we’ve cancelled fuel duty increase, we’ve cut the duty on beer.

“We’re getting behind working families who work hard and want to do the right thing.”

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Families '£50 a month worse off' due to wasted food

Environment minister Richard Benyon said the cost of wasted food had been estimated at £12 billion per year, “which is about £50 a month for the average family.”

During a debate in Westminster, he reportedly urged people to "pay attention to the storage information on food packaging."

Keeping most fruit in the fridge in its packaging can keep it fresher for a week or more, but around 60 per cent of us take fruit out of the packaging, and more than 70 per cent of us do not store it in the fridge.

Re-closing packs of cheese and sliced meats helps to stop them drying out in the fridge, but 13 per cent of us apparently store such food unwrapped in the fridge.

We can all pay attention to the storage information on food packaging, which will help us to store food at home so that it keeps fresher for longer.

We have been needlessly throwing away enormous amounts of food when it is perfectly safe to eat it.

– Richard Benyon, Environment minister

Minister: People wasting money by throwing away food

Families are wasting up to £50 a month by throwing away "enormous amounts of food" that is "perfectly safe" to eat, an environment minister has said.

Environment minister Richard Benyon. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Richard Benyon claimed people had little idea on how to preserve food and said families should eat their left-overs, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Mr Benyon, who said a different approach to food waste could reduce household expenses, was called "out-of-touch" and "patronising" by Labour's vice-chairman Michael Dugher.

"We all know that we ought to be wasting much less food," Mr Benyon reportedly told MPs at a debate in Westminster.

He added: “Food wasted means fewer pounds in our pocket.

"Household bills are squeezed at the moment and we have the opportunity through a variety of different agencies to inform people better about where their food comes from and how to use it most economically.”