Britons are eating food past use-by dates amid cost-of-living crisis, survey finds
People are eating food past its use-by date because they cannot afford to buy more groceries, according to new data.
In a Food Standards Agency survey, 36 per cent of respondents said they could not afford to eat a healthy balanced diet in October — up three per cent from September.
More than two-thirds reported turning to cheaper methods to cook food rather than use an oven, compared to 59% in the previous month.
A third of participants reported that they have eaten food past its use-by date because they could not afford to buy more, while a quarter reported eating cold food this month because they could not afford to cook.
Nearly a fifth said that they have turned off a fridge or freezer containing food to reduce their energy bills and save money in the past month.
The monthly survey polls a representative sample of about 2,000 adults aged 16 to 75 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Some 15 per cent of people said they had used a food bank or charity in the past month. While not a marked increase since the previous month, this has almost doubled since the data began in April 2020.
Iain Porter, senior policy adviser at anti-poverty charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said it was “simply not right” that people were forced to eat food past its use-by date because they could not afford to cook and store fresh food.
“It is doubly concerning that more and more people cannot afford to eat a healthy balanced diet,” he said.
“The Government must ensure that people’s incomes are adequate so that they can afford to buy and prepare food along with other essentials.
“When the Government sets out its plans on Thursday, benefits must at least be uprated in line with inflation as usual, as was promised when Rishi Sunak was chancellor.
“As well as upholding that pledge, the uprating should be brought forward rather than expecting people to struggle on until April before their income reaches anything approaching the soaring cost of food.”
The findings come as the inflation rate hit 11.1% in October, the highest rate for 41 years.
However, the poorest 10 per cent of households are estimated to have seen an increase of 2.5 per cent rise in their living costs, because they spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food and energy compared to richer households.