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Safely handle frozen foods

September 17, 2014

Freezing food is a modern concept that was developed to make the consumption and preservation of our favourite foods easier and more enjoyable. Today, almost any food product can be successfully frozen and enjoyed at a later date, significantly reducing the amount food wastage that most families produce.

Despite how convenient freezing food can be, it is important for consumers to understand the risks that come along with it. For example, freezing can sometimes alter the integrity of foods, and improper thawing or reheating can lead to serious problems.

Using your freezer

Any food products that you intend to keep frozen for an extended period of time should be stored at a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius or lower. However, it’s important to recognise that many home freezers cannot keep temperatures this low on a consistent basis, so foods cannot be frozen for too long.

Furthermore, remember that the freezing process doesn’t actually kill off all harmful bacteria and organisms that may be present in food before freezing. Though the bacteria in food cannot thrive when frozen, they can continue to grow after the product has been thawed.

Safe thawing practices

It’s essential to give frozen foods enough time to properly defrost before cooking, so ensure that you plan your meals ahead of time. Frozen products should never be left out to defrost on kitchen counters, or in the sink, as the outer layers can begin to warm too quickly and provide an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to breed.

Defrost foods in the refrigerator, and remember that though most vegetables can be cooked from frozen, poultry and meat products should be thoroughly defrosted before cooking.

Is re-freezing safe?

Generally, re-freezing foods that have already been thawed once is not recommended as food quality can be affected. However, if the food has not been allowed to get any warmer than the temperature inside your refrigerator, it may be safe to refreeze. Food that was previously frozen can also be re-frozen after it has been cooked.