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When it comes to food safety, there are some rules to abide by. Freezing food is a great way to preserve it for later but there are certain foods that can and cannot be refrozen.
Reasons like food contamination, bacteria growth, or loss in quality are all reasons why some food that has already been frozen shouldn’t be put back into the freezer after it has been thawed.
For instance, you took out some meat and thawed it. You decided that you aren’t going to use it for dinner. Having heard that you can’t refreeze meat you are wondering if it is safe to put it back into the freezer to use later.
Can you refreeze thawed meat?
Refreezing thawed meat can only be done if it was defrosted in the fridge and its temperature didn’t rise above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you thawed the meat using an ice bath method or in a way where the temperature may have risen above that it shouldn’t be refrozen.
You should also keep in mind that when you refreeze meat, it could lose some quality and might not taste as good.
So, you thawed some meat thinking you were going to make dinner tonight. Turns out you aren’t going to cook it and are trying to decide if you can just pop the meat back into the freezer to use at a different time.
Refreezing meat can be a little complicated. The only way you can refreeze the meat is if it has thawed in the fridge. The USDA recommends that you always thaw meat in the fridge and never thaw at room temperature.
If you have put the meat in the fridge to thaw the only way you can refreeze it is if it hasn’t thawed for too long in the fridge. Once the temperature of the meat goes above 40 degrees you should just toss it instead of refreezing it.
A good thing to remember is that if the meat has been in the fridge for longer than 36 hours, don’t refreeze it and just throw it away. If it has only been thawing for a few hours in the fridge then it is safe to refreeze if needed.
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Why Is It Bad To Thaw And Refreeze Meat?
Freezing meat can save you time and effort later and also keep it from going bad. It is fine to refreeze meat unless it is thawed to a temperature above 40 degrees or cooked. It even depends on the type of meat being refrozen.
There are reasons why you should stay away from refreezing the meat twice. So, while we are talking about it, why is it bad to thaw and refreeze meat?
It is bad to thaw and refreeze meat if the temperature has gone above the safety zone which is 40 degrees. When this happens bacteria begins to grow causing contamination. If the meat is already cooked then it will lose quality if it is refrozen.
According to The Pioneer Woman, It is safe to refreeze meat if it has been thawed in the fridge and for less than 36 hours. “If the meat is already cooked, you will lose a lot of the texture and flavor if you thaw and refreeze it again, so we do not recommend refreezing cooked meat. You should also not freeze (or refreeze) any meats that have been sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours or at a 90˚ or higher for more than 1 hour.”
Ground beef meat can be frozen but only if it has been thawed in the fridge. It should only be refrozen once because any more times will ruin the meat’s texture and taste.
The reason it is bad to thaw and refreeze meat is because of possible bacteria growth that can contaminate the meat. This can make you really sick.
Another reason is because the meat will lose quality the more it is thawed and frozen. It will lose its texture, flavor, and just won’t taste great when you cook it.
What Foods Can Be Refrozen After Being Thawed?
Freezing food can help it to last longer so you can use it in future meals. You can just take them out of the freezer and thaw whenever you want to cook them.
Some foods are fine to refreeze and use later even after they are thawed. Others shouldn’t be refrozen.
It may get confusing trying to remember all the foods that can and can’t be refrozen. This can cause you to ask, what foods can be refrozen after thawed?
Foods that can be refrozen after being thawed are some vegetables, fruit and fruit juice, breads, cookies and bakery items. Keep in mind that the more they are thawed and refrozen the more these foods lose quality.
According to the UMN Extension, “You can safely refreeze frozen food that has thawed—raw or cooked, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. To safely refreeze, the thawed product must have been kept cold at 40 degrees or below for no more than 3-4 days. If food is completely thawed, warmed to room temperature or left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, throw the food out for safety’s sake.”
Raw proteins like meat, poultry, and seafood should not be refrozen after they are thawed if they aren’t thawed properly. We already mentioned that bacteria can grow on meats when they reach a certain temperature.
If you know that the meat has stayed below 40 degrees and hasn’t been thawing for too long then it is safe to return it to the freezer. If not, toss it.
Only vegetables, fruit, and bakery items can be refrozen after being thawed in warmer environments although they may lose texture and taste.
The only way you can refreeze thawed meat is if it was thawed in the fridge for a short amount of time. If you know that the temperature of the meat hasn’t gone above its safety zone temperature then it is safe to refreeze.
If the meat has been thawing in the fridge for longer than a few days then it should be thrown away. Bacteria will begin to grow on thawed meat and cause contamination.
Foods like vegetables, fruit or baked goods can be refrozen safely although refreezing will cause them to lose quality. Keep in mind that you can refreeze meat if you follow some important food safety rules.
Still, it isn’t recommended to refreeze the meat after being thawed if at all possible just because of the loss of quality and flavor.