By Geri Turek 1
Can I refreeze uncooked pork chops?
By Geri from St. Louis, MO
September 27, 2010
I would not do it; I would cook them, then freeze them. (You can use the thawed, cooked pork in casseroles, stir-fry, etc.).
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.
Can I refreeze meat?
By Mike from Milwaukee, WI
Yes, good luck. (11/09/2009)
Only after you have cooked it; then, once defrosted, don't refreeze. (11/10/2009)
According to the USDA it is okay to refreeze meat. you may lose some of the flavor due to moisture loss though. Here is the page: fsis.usda.gov (11/27/2009)
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 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)