If you’re like most people, you probably think it’s unsafe to refreeze food that’s thawed, but that’s not true, a food expert says.
In fact, the question of whether you can refreeze thawed food “is one of the most popular questions we get on our hotline,” says Tina Hanes, a registered dietitian with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Any raw or cooked food that has been thawed, including raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood, can be refrozen as long as it was thawed properly — in the refrigerator, not on the counter — and hasn’t spoiled, Hanes told the New York Times.
But not all thawed foods are safe to refreeze, said Hanes. Here are her recommendations:
• Don’t refreeze raw meat or fish if it was defrosted by microwaving or running it under cold water;
• If you let frozen food sit in cold water, keep it in its plastic packaging and change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed; then cook it immediately. You should not put it back in the fridge or refreeze it.
• Don’t let thawed raw meat sit in the fridge too long before refreezing it because it can spoil.
She also warned never to thaw frozen meat, poultry, fish or seafood at room temperature, or by running it under warm tap water. “Bacteria like it warm, like we do, and multiply rapidly at room temperature,” she told the Times. “Thawing on the counter is not safe, period. You should never do that,” she added.
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