Warning: Dinner hosts may be serving "floor pie"

LONDON Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:32pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - British consumers have a nasty habit of serving their dinner guests food that has been dropped on the floor or past the recommended date for its sale and consumption, a new survey showed on Friday.

The poll of 2,000 British consumers, commissioned by Italian pasta brand Giovanni Rana, found 15 percent of respondents admitted to serving "floor pie," food that had fallen on the floor, and 10 percent knowingly made a feast for guests using off-food or goods well past their sell-by date.

And 13 percent said they had accidentally poisoned themselves and their guests with their cooking.

Some of the accidental poisoning could be attributed to the five percent of people who admitted defrosting food using alternative heating appliances, including an iron, hairdryer and sun bed.

The study also found men to be marginally more experimental in the kitchen than women, 26 percent versus 24 percent.

But the male experimentation comes at a cost, with 27 percent managing to set their kitchen or house on fire while on cooking duty and a further 21 percent admitting to having singed their eyebrows or burnt off some hair in the process.

By contrast, 44 percent of women said that their greatest cooking calamity resulted in simply ruining expensive equipment.

Despite an extensive catalogue of cooking disasters, 84 percent of stoic Brits refused to be put off by cooking.

Thanks to celebrity chefs making Michelin-starred food look creatively accessible on television, Britons' love for home cooking has widely been rekindled.

But while many strive to flambe and fricassee with professional flair, the study revealed that one third of Britons still can't master basic techniques, like boiling an egg. In fact, women found this the single most difficult thing to master, more than cooking an omelette (25 percent), baking a potato (14 percent) or judging when pasta is properly cooked (17 percent).

"The good news is there is a ubiquitous love of food here and this love has, if anything, grown," Rana Brand Development Director Stephen Hull said in a statement. "But when it comes to impressing with our culinary creations, we simply can't cut corners on our ingredients."

(Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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