As finances get tighter, people are taking more risks with their food according to a Food Standards Agency survey.
An FSA survey of nearly 2,000 people across the UK suggested more than half were trying to make better use of leftover food. This included ignoring use-by dates, as well as keeping leftovers in the fridge for long periods of time. An FSA spokesman said: "With most of us seeing our weekly shopping bills increase over the last few years, we are all looking for ways to get the most out of our shopping budget.
"Using leftover food is a good way of making our meals go further. However, unless we're careful, there's a chance we can risk food poisoning by not storing or handling them properly."
The FSA survey found that a third of people were more likely to use the look and smell of food to see if it was safe to eat rather than the use-by date.
The spokesman said: "It's tempting to just give your food a sniff to see if you think it's ‘gone off’, but food bugs like E.coli and Salmonella don't cause food to smell off, even when they may have grown to dangerous levels. So food could look and smell fine but still be harmful."
The FSA said leftovers should be put in the fridge as soon as possible and then eaten within two days and should be cooked until they are steaming hot.