The Only Time It's Safe To Refreeze Thawed Meat

PSA: You Can Safely Refreeze Thawed Meat Only If It Thawed in the Fridge

Raise your hand if this has happened to you before: You took some meat out of the freezer to defrost, only to never get around to cooking it. You can still save the meat and refreeze it — but only on one condition.

Photo by trekkyandy.

As The Kitchn points out, you can refreeze meat without cooking it if it was defrosted in the fridge. In the refrigerator, meat thaws at a safe, constant low temperature. In the microwave or with cold water methods, on the other hand, meats can thaw unevenly and some parts might reach a higher, unsafe temperature that could invite bacteria growth. Hey, the more you know.

The Only Time You Can Safely Refreeze Meat or Poultry [The Kitchn]


Comments

    A better question is how long can meat remain in the fridge after it has been thawed? If you can leave it in there for 24-48 hours you could just have it for the next day.

    That seems more sensible than risking a refreeze and thaw.

      3-5 days would be a good bet after defrosting it in the fridge. You might get a little more leeway if you want to push your luck.

      If you're buying vacuum packed meat, you're looking at a lot longer. 5 - 8 weeks in most cases. When you break the seal there will be an unpleasant smell but that isn't the result of spoiling.

    Won't cooking it properly kill all the bacteria, anyway?

      The problem is that the bacteria leave toxins that cooking the meat won't remove.

      Yeah, but it's not the bacteria that's the problem, it's the toxins they produce.

        I did not know this. Hooray, I can go back to being terrified of bacteria again! :D

          Bacterial toxins are proteins and can be destroyed by high temperatures. Botulinum toxin for example is destroyed by 85C for 5 min. The bacteria itself is killed at 65C in case you think I am confused about the difference. If you are worried about something but thinking about eating it anyway, casserole, soup or stew, ideally bringing to the boil for 5-10 min, and you are good to go.

          Of course it may not TASTE great.

            If boiling meat til it's grey was good enough for my ancestors, I'm sure it's good enough for me!

        This is only half correct.
        Food poisoning occurs when bacteria in food produce toxins (e.g Clostridium Botulinum , the cause of Botulism). Symptoms can occur within hours.
        Food infection occurs when you consume live bacteria and they infect you, reproducing and invading your body and destroying cells and producing toxins (e.g. Salmonella or E.coli). Symptoms occur hours to days later, after the little guys breed inside you.

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