Refreezing Thawed Meat

Generally, refreezing thawed meat is not recommended. This is because the quality of the meat will be reduced in this process. Also, if the meat was not thawed in the fridge, there is a strong likelihood that bacteria has started to grow on the meat.
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  • Food Safety - According to the USDA, as long as the meat has been thawed in the fridge, the meat can be refrozen. If it was thawed on the counter, the meat is not considered safe to refreeze.
  • Food Quality - When meat is refrozen not only is there moisture loss, that contributes to dry and tough meat, but each refreeze actually changes the structure of the proteins. In this article from Cooks Illustrated we learn that when we freeze the water inside of the protein cells, soluble salts are released which causes some of the proteins to shorten, causing tougher meat.
  • It is best practice to cook the thawed meat, then freeze it.


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March 11, 20200 found this helpful

We used a somewhat different guide to determine should/could a meat or other items be refrozen. We didn't regard whether it was thawed in the fridge or countertop.

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If the partially thawed item, tray of chops, etc., still had ice crystals throughout, it was considered safe to refreeze, whereas an item with most all moisture fully thawed, should be used and not refrozen.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 21, 2010

My daughter partially thawed some loose pork sausage in the microwave and could not finish thawing it so she put it back in the freezer. Is it still ok to re-thaw this in the microwave and then cook it to eat?

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By Harley chick from Lewistown, PA

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January 21, 20100 found this helpful

No! Once you partially un-thaw it, you need to cook it, then you can refreeze. Partially thawing in a microwave "wakes up" bacteria which can multiply if you don't finish cooking it.

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January 21, 20100 found this helpful

My parents were very food conscious. The rule of thumb was: if it thaws out completely, you need to cook it or throw it away. If it was partially thawed & still very cold, you could refreeze it. I am 57 & I've followed these rules & never gotten sick. If you are worried, marinade it. Marinade is kind of preserving it & keep it in the fridg till you are ready to cook it. When marinating, it can take days to do it.

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January 21, 20100 found this helpful

Check out the website stilltasty.com it shares a lot about how long to keep foods frozen and refrigerated etc.

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January 21, 20100 found this helpful

We butcher our own beef. I have always refroze our meat if it was just partially thawed and still partially frozen. I have never had any health problems from doing this.

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I've never cooked it first and then froze it. I think you'll do fine freezing it again as long as it's not completely thawed.

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January 21, 2010

I went to the store this morning and I bought some Italian sausage and they were almost frozen. Luckily I was going to use it today, but my concern is I always thought that you couldn't refreeze meat. If this is true, had I come into the store later that day, the sausage would have been thawed. So unknown to me I would have brought it home and stuck it in the freezer. I just wonder how many times other meats in the case are frozen? Can you refreeze store bought meat or not?

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Thanks,
Pam

Answers:

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

Hi Pam. I think as long as the meat doesn't get to room temp., which allows bacteria to develop, freezing is no problem. I've done that many times and had no problems. You should be fine. (04/06/2005)

By Suzanne

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

A butcher friend of ours says it's ok to re-freeze meat. I've done it many times since he told us this, and we've never encountered any problems at all! (04/06/2005)

By carol

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

I was under the impression that raw meat, which had been frozen, can be refrozen if cooked. (04/06/2005)

By Lucille Gifford

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

Gee, thanks guys for the information. I wish I knew this a few years back when we had a snow storm and electric was out for 4 days and everything in the freezer thawed. I could have refroze it, instead of having pork chops for breakfast. LOL. Like I said, I was always told once thawed you can't refreeze unless you cook it. But, if I understand, as long as it's still cold you can refreeze raw meat, right? Ok, thanks again. (04/07/2005)

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By Pam

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

If the meat was allowed to thaw on the counter or in the microwave, it sounds like there is a concern about bacteria. What happens if the meat is frozen with bacteria? Does the bacteria continue to grow? Doesn't all bacteria die if the meat is cooked properly? (12/30/2007)

By eighttrackin

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

No! Never refreeze! Bacteria can go in hibernation, and just happily keep going after thawing, and the cells of the meat burst because they're made out of 70/90% water, which expands. So it's probably already dry. Make sure you cook as soon as it's thawed. (04/27/2008)

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

It's perfectly ok to freeze meat again. As a cook, the staff and I did this all the time.

Bacteria does form when thawed, but when you freeze the meat again, it freezes the bacteria too. When you thaw it out again, it goes back to where it was before.

The texture may be affected a little bit, but that is about it. (09/19/2008)

By Perry

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

I work at a butcher shop and a lot of the time meat comes in frozen. As for meats like pork and beef, which are made into sausages/hamburger/patties, you have to thaw it enough to work through the grinder, which in turn you mix spices into and make the product. You then freeze those sausages/hamburger/patties for customers. When you go to cook it you in turn thaw it out or as I do, put it on the grill frozen.

A lot of people who hunt their own venison will get it in fresh/frozen (depends if it is really cold outside) and in turn we put it in the cooler to thaw. You then cut it and freeze it. Many months later people will bring in left-over meat to be put into sausages. You then must thaw it and work it into the grinder and freeze it again. Then to actually eat it, you have to thaw it again to cook it.

Think about it; if the meat smells bad and looks green (I don't know of any green eggs and ham to be in existence), then don't eat it! That's the general rule, isn't it? (09/25/2008)

By Matt Boersma

Freezing Meat - How Many Times Can You Freeze It?

A quote from another article on the subject titled, "Is It Safe to Refreeze Raw Meat and Poultry that Has been Thawed?" by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster County:

The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) advises, "Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing." (Basics for Handling Food Safely, September 8, 2006.)

(DO NOT thaw meat at room temperature, such as on the kitchen counter.)

Meat/poultry that is refrozen might suffer some quality loss as moisture may be lost during thawing.

Safety will depend on whether the raw product was handled properly before it was frozen, refrozen shortly after it was thawed, cooked to a safe temperature when it is eaten and handled safely if there are any leftovers. (11/10/2008)

By Jensen

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March 30, 2010

Can I freeze raw meat, let it thaw and then refreeze the raw hamburger meat?

By Dannielle from Wichita, KS

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March 30, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful

Check this link: stilltasty.com/.../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.

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful

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!

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April 11, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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September 27, 2010

Can I refreeze uncooked pork chops?

By Geri Turek from St. Louis, MO

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September 27, 20100 found this helpful

I would not do it; I would cook them, then freeze them. (You can use the thawed, cooked pork in casseroles, stir-fry, etc.).

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September 29, 20100 found this helpful

No. Never refreeze meat. If you are not going to use it, cook it then freeze it.

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December 26, 2010

Can I refreeze Cornish hens?

By kyle smith from Philadelphia, PA

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January 3, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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March 22, 2016

Food safety is an important concern when deciding to refreeze previously frozen meats. This is a page about refreezing frozen hamburger.

Frozen hamburger in packaging against white background

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September 27, 2010

Can you re-freeze thawed sausages?

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May 24, 2010

Can you refreeze raw beef once it has been defrosted? Will it be safe to eat?

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February 27, 2010

Can I refreeze meat?

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