Refreezing Meat Guidelines

Occasionally, frozen foods are partially or completely thawed because of delays in storing food, a power outage, or a change of plans for cooking the food.

The basis for determining safety in refreezing foods is how long and at what temperature they have been held. Look closely at frozen foods you thawed partially or completely to determine whether you should refreeze them.

Refreezing needs to be done quickly. Clean the freezer before refilling. If the freezer has an adjustable temperature control, turn it to the coldest position.

Check each package or container of food. Non-rigid containers can often be checked without opening by squeezing to feel for ice crystals. If they need to be opened, they should be carefully rewrapped.

Certain foods may be safely refrozen if they still contain ice crystals, or if they are still cold--about 35 to 40 F--and if you held them no longer than one or two days at that temperature. Put the relabeled packages in the coldest part of the freezer leaving space for circulation, and use within two or three months as quality is diminished.

Any signs of spoilage, off odors or color in any food indicates the food should be disposed of without tasting.

Meats such as beef, pork, veal, lamb and poultry can be refrozen when they are still firm with ice crystals. Meat still safe to eat can be cooked and refrozen. Discard meats if any signs of spoilage are present.

Fruits usually ferment when they start to spoil which will not make them dangerous to eat but will spoil the flavor. Defrosted fruits that smell and taste good can be refrozen.

Thawed fruits suffer in appearance, flavor and texture from refreezing; if they do, you can make them into jam.

Vegetables should be refrozen only if they contain plenty of ice crystals and still have a firm-to-hard core of ice in the center. Spoiled vegetables can be dangerous.

Shellfish, prepared foods or leftovers should not be refrozen if defrosted. If the condition of the food is poor or even questionable, get rid of it. It may be dangerous.

You can cook and eat thawed food mixtures like casseroles, pot pies, dinners, or pizzas if you are certain they have not reached a temperature above 40 F for more than one to two days. Do not refreeze these foods.

Never refreeze melted ice cream, cream pies, eclairs or similar foods.

Unfrosted cakes, uncooked fruit pies, bread, rolls, and similar bakery rolls can be refrozen. Their quality may suffer, but they will be safe to eat.

The investment in the foods in your freezer may be significant, but so are the benefits of serving safe foods.

Last Updated - Thursday, August 09, 2012 12:06 PM


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