My freezer door was ajar for an unkown period of time, can I refreeze the meat, including ground beef again? The meat was still cold.
LS from Grindstone, PA
Did the meat thaw? If not, it is probably okay. If it did thaw, then you should cook it or throw it away. Either way it shouldn't be a total loss. (02/24/2006)
No meats should ever been re-frozen after being thawed, in any condition or for any reason. However, you could prepare any and all meats, when you found them thawed and still cold. After preparing this meat, then you can freeze it, for a later meal. But if I'd found them thawed and they were no longer cold, by all means, toss them all out, no matter how many packages you'll be losing. No meat is worth getting food poison over. Just chalk it up to experience. You might want to check into buying a new freezer, one with a lock or just be sure to not stock your freezer so much that the door won't close or you'll have to go thru this all over again. (02/24/2006)
This happened to me on New Year's day. The meat was thawed, but still cold. My local food economist said she was sorry, but to throw it away. Even cooking was not an option, as it wouldn't destroy the bacteria. I followed her advice, no amount of pork chops was worth risking my health. (02/25/2006)
Your insurance policy might cover the loss and no, you cannot refreeze meat that has thawed, even if it's still cold.(02/25/2006)
I would (and have) reused it. There's no problem refreezing meat despite what these scaremongers say. As long as it's cooked properly all the way through, you and your family won't get sick. Cooking destroys the bacteria. (03/01/2006)
Don't panic. I checked the USDA website and they say it's fine to refreeze meat. It may compromise the quality of the meat, but not the safety. Check it out at www.fsis.usda.gov (06/06/2006)
Not one person who says you can't refreeze meat has given a valid reason why not. If meat was properly thawed in the fridge it's perfectly safe to refreeze. Why wouldn't it be? The only thing that may be affected is texture and moisture content.
Of course you still have to be careful when preparing meat. Even meat that is well refrigerated will eventually spoil, hence the best before dates on packages. But it's not going to grow more bacteria because it's refrozen. (10/06/2006)
I recently had a steer butchered and have had many deer butchered and the meat packed by professionals.
They all hang meat for a long period of time. My steer hung for three weeks at 40 degrees before the carcass was cut into individual portions and then packaged. I have defrosted some larger portions and then used a small amount and refroze the rest. Same with all the "offcuts" from the steer I had packaged as dog food. No one in my family has ever gotten sick from it. (03/15/2008)
Even meat that is on the turn has been eaten safely in the past by cutting it into 1 cm cubes and boiling it for 30 minutes. This method is incorporated in survival situations, and to hide any bad smell, curry powder is the best thing. Part of the reason curry powder is so powerful smelling is that, before fridges, it could be used to hide the smell of meat that was going off, (the other part was that the ingredients act as a preservative and repellent).
It is not something I can recommend as I have a very acute sense of smell/taste and I suspect that no amount of curry could completely mask the odor, but I suffered no ill-effects. The point, however, is that even extremely dubious food is OK if cooked properly. If you are slightly worried, over-cook a little, let cool completely, then refreeze.
The concern with refreezing is that after initially defrosting, the microbes that are in everything come out of stasis and set to work decaying it, then when you refreeze it they go back into stasis, but with part of their work done, then when they defrost again, it won't take so long to make the food risky to eat if not cooked well.
It is essentially over-safety for the unwary and foolhardy. The only things to watch out for are pork, fish/shellfish and anything with cream in. These are the ones catering students rant about so there is probably something to it. With anything else "The nose knows". Smell it before, during and after cooking. If in doubt, throw it. (03/17/2008)
Buy a UPS (Uninteruptable Power Source) for your freezer in case of power failures. They are cheap compared to even a single freezer full of food. (03/17/2008)
USDA...directly from them
Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion.
If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly." (03/25/2008)
I left my freezer door open for about 19 hours. All my meat was thawed I lost only a few steaks. The meat that is sealed which allows no drippings from other meat to mix into it is okay still. However meat like steak wrapped in freezer wrap that may of cross contaminate is no good even cooking will not save it. Chicken is not safe at all toss it out. My meat was still cool. When refreezing it cut into strips or cubes for steak and make sure it was cooked well done. It can be used for stir fries, stew, or soup.
Sausages must be well cooked and cut into rounds and refrozen. Ground beef must be cooked well and refrozen in one pound packages. All meat must be cooled first then refrozen. (10/06/2008)
There is much information above that needs to be set straight. First, there are two issues: microbial contamination and meat quality. If meat has been improperly thawed or improperly partially thawed such as by leaving on the counter at room temperature or having the freezer door ajar for a long period, then potentially dangerous microbes are likely to be growing on the surface of the meat.
In fact, proper cooking will kill these microbes, but might not render the food safe to eat. Why? Some bacteria produce toxins that are not destroyed by heating. Now, regarding re-freezing meat that has been properly thawed, such as in the refrigerator, this meat can be safely re-frozen. The quality (texture) of re-frozen meat will likely decline with each re-freezing cycle because freezing tends to dehydrate cells as well as damage some cell walls. (02/01/2009)
By Doug H
Last week I read this site, wondering if I could thaw, cook and safely eat meat which I had correctly thawed in the fridge, and refrozen. After reading the site, knowing that I had thawed the meat correctly, I decided to go ahead and thaw this meat in the fridge (for a second time), and cook it for dinner. I am now on day four of food poisoning.
The night after eating the meat I awoke at 4 am throwing up. I spent the next day in bed, not the easiest task as I have an active 18 month old girl. The day after this was spent in bed also, but for a short walk to the movie store for the toddler entertainment. This sickness seems to have moved from my belly down to my intestines, and is hopefully on it's way out soon.
So this is a good reason not to refreeze meat (Unless it is for your dog, as their systems are meant to handle much more than us humans, I successfully fed my dog raw meat including ground beef for years, and he thrived on it.)
I hope this dissuades others from getting sick like we are right now in our household (no I didn't feed it to the toddler, but my husband is sick also). (09/05/2009)
By Deb T.
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