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Refreezing Meats?

I've always been told you can't, that the chemical bonds in the meat change. However, I recently read that it is indeed okay to do. I'm the person who defrosts meat and then ends up cooking something else. So once and for all....

IS IT OKAY TO REFREEZE MEAT?

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  1. I'll go on the record saying I have done so, eaten the item., and here to tell you i survived without any incident of sickness or death.

    1. What do you mean by "okay"?

      From a food safety standpoint, it is absolutely "okay" (assuming the meat is defrosted properly).

      From a food quality standpoint, it might not be "okay" because there will be some degradation in taste and texture.

      1. Better than throwing it away!

        1. My rule has always been that if I defrosted it in the fridge, yes. If I defrosted it outside the fridge, and it was warm to the touch, no. Still cool, yes.

          1. Nope. If in doubt, throw it out.

            7 Replies
            1. re: gaffk

              Huh? Refreezing meat has no food safety implications. None.

              When in doubt, find out. Wasting food because of ignorance and laziness is immoral.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                That depends on how it is thawed. At its best, refreezing meat has minimal or negligible safety implications. See my post below.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I think we're in vehement agreement. Thawing meat has safety implications. Refreezing it doesn't, but neither will it magically undo problems that were created during the thawing process.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Yep. Agreed.

                    I guess my point was just that refreezing entails another thaw, and if you thaw in a sloppy or unsafe manner, you're increasing your risk.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Well then you should not be eating it in the first place. If you thaw unsafely, do not eat the food. If you thaw correctly (in the fridge or via cold water) then you are safe to eat or refreeze.

                      Generally speaking, if you water thaw make sure to pat the item dry before refreezing.

                      It is absolutely fine to refreeze meat. Think about it. Do you buy a chicken from your grocer, take it home and freeze it? Well I can pretty much guarantee to you that it has been previously frozen. Ditto that for pork (which, incidentally, is a fine way to alleviate the trichinosis problem).

                      1. re: Sal Vanilla

                        You missed my point almost entirely. You are increasing the risk of poorly thawed meat when you refreeze.

                        Same goes for acceptable methods of thawing - if you thaw a turkey in the fridge, you are exposing it (the skin anyway) to approx 4-5 days of refrigerator temperature - 32-40 deg F. Spoilage bacteria, though slow, are a factor at these temperatures - you wouldn't cook and eat turkey left in your fridge (not freezer) for a year, right? Well if you refreeze and then rethaw, the turkey has effectively now spent 8-10 days at refrigerator temperature. Try that four more times and you've got one dank bird rotting away in your fridge.

                        In other words, common sense still applies.

            2. I think, just my humble opinion, that if you thaw and it's raw and then you cook it you can refreeze. But, if you thaw cooked or raw meat and try to refreeze you are comprimising quality. For example, with last week's turkey - I wouldn't think to refreeze a turkey I didn''t use, but have no problem freezing the leftover turkey tetrazzini I made last night.

              1. I did some reading on this, and from what I can tell if the meat is still sanitary, then refreezing before cooking is not a safety issue. It may or may not alter texture, probably relating to how much moisture is in the meat.

                1. What about Chicken? If toxins grow on the surface of the poultry while defrosting, freezing won't kill the bacteria, right?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                    No it doesn't kill them, it just stops their growth so when you thaw it, you're right back at the level you started.

                    1. re: GraydonCarter

                      Correct. The thawing process allows for the growth of some bacteria and associated toxins. Not a dangerous amount (assuming it was thawed carefully), but the problem is that freezing does not kill these bacteria and thus next time you thaw the meat, the bacteria already have a head start.

                      The real question becomes how carefully it was thawed (vacuum-packed in cold water bath = good, sitting on the counter = bad), how it was treated before the first freeze, and the quality of the meat in the first place. There is no line in the sand here, and people have to use their judgment.

                      Also, freezing thawing and refreezing (especially in a warm, home model freezer) can negatively affect the texture of meats by repeatedly creating ice crystals that sort of tear up the meat's cells.

                    2. I would not deliberately do this but I can report that twice this summer we had lengthy power outages that resulted in the chicken in my freezer thawing (we have a side-by-side, and the chicken is stored near the top; the beef on the lower shelves stayed frozen). I made a calculated decision to take our chances and did not throw any of it out. But I did make sure that it was thoroughly cooked so that any bacteria that might have grown during the power outage was destroyed. If the thawed contents had been beef, I probably would have thrown it out, as we tend to serve that medium rare.

                      1. As long as it was properly thawed (either in a cold water bath or fridge), properly cooked, and not kept out for more than a little while, of course! If you can put it in the fridge, you can put it in the freezer.

                        But if you're talking about quality, I have never had an issue with refreezing cooked meat. As a single person, it is far easier to refreeze the leftovers than try to eat them all in the few days I have. I make all sorts of things to refreeze.