Q: Is it safe to refreeze thawed foods?
October 13, 2015 MVP Blog comments
A: The notion that you cannot refreeze thawed foods “is a myth,” said Tina Hanes, a registered dietitian with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Any raw or cooked food that has been thawed can be refrozen as long as it was thawed properly — in the refrigerator, not on the counter — and hasn’t spoiled. That includes raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood, Ms. Hanes said.
“It’s one of the most popular questions we get on our hotline,” she said, “but it is safe to refreeze raw meat, as long as it’s not spoiled.”
(NYTimes.com, by Roni Caryn Rabin)
You should never thaw frozen meat, poultry, fish or seafood by placing it on the counter at room temperature or by running it under warm tap water, she said, “because bacteria like it warm, like we do, and multiply rapidly at room temperature. Thawing on the counter is not safe, period. You should never do that.”
And you should not refreeze raw meat or fish if you defrosted it by microwaving it or running cold water over it, she said. If you let frozen food sit in cold water, keep it in its plastic packaging and change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed; then cook it immediately. You should not put it back in the fridge or refreeze it.
Don’t let thawed raw meat sit in the fridge too long before refreezing it because it can spoil. Spoiled food often smells bad or “off,” and may be sticky or slimy. The U.S.D.A. food safety site, at foodsafety.gov, has a food safety chart with recommendations on how long specific foods can be kept in the fridge. Chicken, for example, should be eaten or refrozen within two days of being thawed in the refrigerator, which takes about one day. Defrosted fish, shrimp and shellfish should also be consumed (or refrozen) within one to two days. The site also offers tips on safe defrosting methods.
“You can refreeze anything as long as it’s been handled properly,” Ms. Hanes said, adding that it is safe to thaw and then refreeze frozen fruit, vegetables, breads, cakes, processed foods and other items. The process, however, may affect their texture, taste and color, making them mushy or dried out and less appetizing, depending on the item.