Busting persistent frozen food mythsWritten by Anjali Dattani
A new study has revealed that many British people still cling to a surprising number of myths about frozen food – so experts and frozen food business Birds Eye have set about putting the record straight.
Common myths such as foods being unsafe to freeze, and that frozen food contains fewer nutrients than fresh or is packed with preservatives, are still believed by people in every corner of the UK – even while the nation gets through more than 300 million items of frozen food in an average week.
The study was commissioned by Birds Eye, surveying a representative sample of 2,000 Brits to assess national attitudes towards frozen food.
Commonly-held myths about frozen food
One fifth of consumers think frozen fruit and vegetables have lower nutrient levels than their fresh counterparts, while 75% don’t think you can cook meat from frozen. 10% even think that all frozen food is more expensive than the fresh version.
But dietitian and health writer Laura Tilt, working in partnership with Birds Eye to debunk such myths, revealed that this is not the case. Overall, studies have shown the nutrient levels in frozen fruit and veg are the same as fresh produce; occasionally frozen fruit and veg may actually retain more vitamins.
Laura also highlighted that although 1 in 12 don’t know that frozen foods last longer than their fresh equivalents, freezing actually keeps food safe and tasty to eat for far longer.
Nearly two thirds (64%) don’t think you can freeze all types of food, but the experts revealed the opposite is true. The truth is that only a few foods aren’t ideal for freezing, such as eggs (raw or cooked) or vegetables with a high water content that tend to go mushy upon defrosting.
The benefits of frozen
These mistaken beliefs could be causing families to waste food, when fresh goods which aren’t consumed are dumped – freezing them could help keep costs down and reduce household waste.
But 65% don’t think you can cook fruit or vegetables from frozen, while only 25% think you can cook meat from frozen – yet another myth.
Laura added: “Many (but not all) foods can be cooked from frozen. Examples include chicken breasts, mince, fish, pizza, fruit and vegetables, and ready meals. The best advice is to check the packet of the food for specific cooking and heating instructions.”
Part of a healthy diet
12% also wrongly think that frozen food can’t form part of a healthy diet – but a rounded diet is complemented by frozen fruit & veg just as much as fresh.
Laura revealed that “two fifths of Brits believe frozen foods are filled with preservatives but the actual freezing process preserves the food, so added preservatives aren’t required. Freezing is like pressing the pause button.
“Similarly, one third reckons the foods in our freezers are packed with salt, but frozen foods don’t actually contain any more salt than fresh. And some frozen foods, like fruit and vegetables, don’t contain any salt at all. It’s helpful to look at nutrition labels if trying to cut down your salt intake – both of fresh and frozen foods.”
A spokesman for Birds Eye said: “We’re committed to delivering delicious, nutritious food. Frozen food can be a really valuable addition to a family's weekly diet, as the freezing process locks in the 'good stuff'.
“And, let's face it, kids are always changing their minds about what they want to eat – so frozen food is a great way to get a balanced diet without wasting food.”
Lauren Woodley, a Nutrition Manager at Birds Eye, added: “Freezing is great as ice is nature’s preservative, locking in the nutrients and goodness of foods. Frozen food is available at peak quality year round, irrespective of the season, and using frozen foods helps to reduce our food waste.
“Frozen fruits, vegetables and fish are especially great, as they count towards our 5-a-day and recommended 2 portions of fish a week, and are in many cases more convenient and easy to prepare than fresh.”
Three quarters of us typically opt for frozen foods out of convenience, while three fifths choose frozen as the foods will last longer.
The study found that peas come out on top as the most regularly consumed frozen food, ahead of chips and even ice cream.
It also highlighted generational differences in perceptions of frozen food, with younger people consistently underestimating its benefits and admitting ignorance. Over a third (36%) of those aged 18-24 believed frozen fruit and veg to contain fewer nutrients than fresh, compared to just 13% of over-55s.
The UK’s favourite freezer foods (most often consumed in a typical week)
- Fish fillets
- Plain chicken
- Fish fingers
- Ready meals
- Breaded chicken
- Ice lollies
- Yorkshire puddings
- Green beans
- Roast potatoes
More information: https://www.birdseye.co.uk/nutrition/frozen-food-myths