This is a guide about refreezing frozen hamburger. Food safety is an important concern when deciding to refreeze previously frozen meats.
Can I freeze raw meat, let it thaw and then refreeze the raw hamburger meat?
By Dannielle from Wichita, KS
I have always heard that it is unsafe to refreeze completely thawed raw meat. If it is only part way thawed, it is supposed to be OK to refreeze.
Check this link: http://stilltasty.com/questions/index/91/page:1
It's a great site to bookmark for all kinds of food safety questions; this says that if the meat has been thawed in the fridge and it's been two days or under since the thaw--it can be safely refrozen.
Actually to be on the safe side do not do it. You can cook the thawed hamburger then freeze it. There is always the possibility that you might refreeze the hamburger then refreeze it then forget you have refrozen it then refreeze it again. Freezing meat does not kill bacteria. it only slows the growth. Just don't do it.
Don't do it - cook it thoroughly, then refreezing it will be safe. You might get away with refreezing partially thawed meat as stated in the prior feedback - but only solid cuts of meat, chops or roasts or steaks, not chopped meat.
One of my friends ate chicken livers that had been thawed and refrozen (inadvertent on her part, the market had not labeled the chicken as previously frozen) - she became so violently ill she was taken to the emergency room in an ambulance - couldn't even walk to her car!
According to the USDA any meat can be re-frozen if it has been thawed out in the refrigerator. If you used the microwave or cold water then it has to be cooked before it can be re frozen. I have done this many times with no problems. But I will not re-freeze something that I did not thaw out in the fridge.
Can I refreeze uncooked pork chops?
By Geri from St. Louis, MO
I would not do it; I would cook them, then freeze them. (You can use the thawed, cooked pork in casseroles, stir-fry, etc.).
No. Never refreeze meat. If you are not going to use it, cook it then freeze it.
Can I refreeze Cornish hens?
By Kyle from Philadelphia, PA
You need to cook them before refreezing to be safe and I wouldn't bother even doing that if they've been thawed for more than three days for safety sake.
Can you re-freeze thawed sausages?
By Brian from Bowral, NSW
I am a Dietary Manager and I as told in my training about refreezing meats only IF the meat still has ice crystals in it, it is OK to refreeze, however the quality of the meat won't be as it was when you bought it. I have done it and have not had any problems.
If it is completely thawed, I wouldn't chance it as it could cause foodborne illness. (05/24/2010)
I would cook them and then freeze them. Safer and will be ready upon warming :) (05/24/2010)
Brian, try: stilltasty.com. It's a great site for all food items including shelf life, freezing questions etc. (05/24/2010)
As a chef I had to become a health inspector. I do not know if that is required any more though. What we learned is that it is OK to refreeze meat and that the reason they say not to is because of hold time. Everything has a 2 hour hold time. People do not keep track of this.
So let's say that you bought your meat at the store, took it out of the cooler and put it in your cart. You shopped for 10 more minutes then checked out. It took you 26 minutes to check out and get to the car and load. It took you 22 minutes to get home and unload your car. It took you another 5 minutes to get it into the freezer. You have just used 63 minutes from your 160 minutes. So you now have only 97 minutes left of your original hold time. You take it out to thaw. Most people do not use the fridge to thaw meat and set it out on the counter or somewhere. This is a really bad idea because let's say this same meat that has 97 minutes left on its original hold time, is on the counter thawing and now it takes only 1 and 1/2 hours to thaw, but you do not know that (neither would I) and it sets there for about 2 hours and 20 minutes when you realize that it is thawed. Now you have used 50 minutes from your 97 minutes left of your hold time. You only have 47 minutes left.
So you are getting ready to cook it and you're preparing it. So it sits there waiting to be cooked, this takes 14 minutes getting pans ready, chopping peppers and onions, heating pans, so on and so forth. You now only have 33 minutes left. You have some that you need to refreeze so you get it in a new package that takes 30 minutes, because you eat really quick and clean up some to have a clean area to package your meat to refreeze again. You now have 3 minutes left. So when you thaw it again to cook you have 3 minutes left. You will go over your hold time and have a real great vessel for bacteria and making people sick. It will look fine, smell fine, taste good, but is very capable of making people very sick once you go over your hold time. The hold time is saying that you have 2 hours before the meat actually will start to have bad bacteria in it and cooking it will not kill these kind.
The last thing is with a hold time, you do not know how much of it was used by the people at the store packaging it and also in transport. I am sorry for such a long explanation, but if people know and understand about these things it is easier. So if you keep track of your hold time and know what it is and are very careful of how you thaw your meat in the fridge (I hope, we do), then you can refreeze it with no problem. The thing with the ice crystals in it is correct because it is not using any of the hold time since it is still partially frozen and not good for bacteria to grow. This is for all meat, fish, and poultry. It is also on eggs and milk as well about the hold times. (05/25/2010)
Why take a chance? Throw it out or cook it then freeze it. (05/26/2010)
Can you refreeze raw beef once it has been defrosted? Will it be safe to eat?
By Elaine from London
If the meat was stored in the freezer, then defrosted, it should be cooked and eaten. Never re-freeze meat. (02/27/2010)
You can refreeze meat if it's been defrosted safely in the refrigerator. However, the taste quality goes down. (02/28/2010)
Federal food safety guidelines say NO. (03/01/2010)
By Ann P.
Can I refreeze meat?