Can you refreeze meat? 10 burning questions about frozen food, answered –

You’ve probably heard a lot of so-called rules when it comes to frozen food.

For example, maybe you’ve been told that ice cream has gone bad once you see those crystals form or that you should never thaw and then refreeze meat.

But do you know which of those facts are true and which ones you can toss out — along with that mystery meat that’s been in the back of your freezer for five years?

For definitive answers to some common questions about keeping frozen food healthy and tasty, TODAY Food consulted two experts in the field: chef Jennifer Stack, RDN, who teaches nutrition and food safety at the Culinary Institute of America, and Lauren Sucher, a press officer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Together, they’ve got answers to some of your most burning questions about everything frozen.

Is it OK to defrost food on my counter?

“Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top,” says Sucher. “Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing.

“There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.”

How soon do I need to cook frozen food once I defrost it?

If you thawed the food in the refrigerator, you generally have between one to five days to cook it. “Once ground meat, stew meat, poultry or fish are thawed, cook them within a day or two,” advises Stack. “Red meat roasts and steaks can stay in your refrigerator for three to five days before you need to cook them.”

Is it true that you shouldn’t refreeze thawed food?

This is a common misconception, but the experts say that if you’re still in the safe window for cooking and eating meat, poultry or fish, it’s perfectly safe to refreeze them, provided that the foods were thawed in the refrigerator and kept cold (40°F or below). “Refreezing the food might result in undesirable changes in texture and some loss of flavor but it will be safe to eat,” says Stack.


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