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Feb 11, 2014 07:20 AM

Freezing raw chicken and pork

I bought a large bag of unfrozen chicken leg quarters in juices and a pack of thin cut pork chops on Sunday afternoon and left them in the fridge, thinking I would separate them out and freeze them at a later date. However, I read on the USDA website that they should have been consumed within 1-2 days of refrigerating. They have been in the fridge for almost 48 hours. I just stuck them in the freezer in their original packages- since they are sealed I am unable to smell them. Are they safe to eat or should I just throw them away?

Also, if they are safe to eat, should I cook them immediately after thawing when I do decide to take them out of the freezer?

I have a bad habit of opening my fridge a lot and leaving it open for at least a minute. Please let me know if these meats are safe, I'd hate to throw them away but don't want to get sick either. Thank you.

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  1. First look at the 'Best By' date. If the date tells you the meat is almost past the date it still is going to be fine BUT when you do thaw it IMO it's best to eat it that day. Remember that the store you bought the meat from was displaying it in what is essentially a fridge. Their fridge or your fridge doesn't make much difference ASSUMING your fridge is set to be nice and cold. The ideal fridge temp should be about 35 F to 37 F.
    Put a temp. gauge on the middle self half way between the back and front and check the temp an hour later for an accurate reading.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Puffin3

      Thank you! The best by date for the chicken is 1/18 and the pork is 1/14 so I think they are ok after reading your reply. My fridge stays pretty cold, sometimes the stuff in the back of the fridge actually freezes. I just worry that the chicken and pork may have had their temps raised because I constantly open the fridge, bad I know.

      1. re: valia

        Things freeze because of leaving the door open, perhaps.

        1. re: valia

          1/18 and 1/14 or 2/18 and 2/14?? Big difference.

          1. re: Njchicaa

            Oops... 2/14 and 2/18. My bad. I always check the dates before I buy meats, and never buy any past their expiration dates.

      2. They should be fine to eat but they will get freezer burned in the original packagingfairly easily. Assuming that they are already frozen you should at least put the packages into freezer bags for an extra layer.
        You should defrost slowly in the closed fridge and eat when thawed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: magiesmom

          Thanks! I'm planning on eating them soon so I don't think freezer burn will be a huge issue.

        2. When I freeze chicken, I rinse it off under cold water, pat dry with a clean towel and double wrap in commercial quality plastic wrap. The faster something freezes the better (fewer ice crystals) so don't jam all the pieces together into a thick bundle like a brick, keep the package thin. Better to have 2 thin packages than one big thick one. Don't jam multiple packages together in the freezer for the same reason, spread them out.

          SAFE TO EAT: The date on the store label is supposed to correspond to the box date on the case the product arrived in, NOT the date the case is opened and the product portioned and labeled. The date is also not supposed to be moved forward because a product did not sell during the target time frame.

          Countless undercover stings have been done over the years that show the rules are often broken with sell by dates. I would not rely solely on them

          Your best defense is your nose. When you thaw your chicken & pork, rinse under cold water, pat dry and give it a smell. If there is little if any smell, your good to go. If it has a strong pungent smell that makes you pull your nose away throw it out. If its in the middle ground where you smell something and take repeated sniffs trying to figure it out its probably also best to chuck it. The price of chicken & pork is such that IMHO its not worth the risk.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tom34

            I didn't have any plastic wrap so I just froze the chicken in its bag and the pork in its package. I'm going to eat the meats soon, so hopefully the taste won't be affected. I'll be sure to smell the meats before cooking. Thanks!

          2. It's fine. I would have repackaged them but it's fine if you plan to eat it soon. The USDA has the most conservative recommendations because they don't want to be liable. I have had fresh meat in the fridge for probably up to 5 days. I do try to freeze it by then but only rarely does it ever look or smell different.

            6 Replies
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Yes, the USDA is way conservative and the guidelines are geared to the lowest common denominator, and assumes consumers don't have working eyes, noses, or brains. I usually by Costco's 2-packs of chickens and cut them up and freeze them in meal-sized portions as soon as I get them home, but I have occasionally waited a day or more.

              Depending on the packaging, they may be dry or freezer-burnt when thawed, but if your freezer is actually below freezing there shouldn't be any further changes. I'd do a stew or some other moist recipe to allow for long cooking time and additional moisture.

              1. re: tardigrade

                Thank you! Please read what I wrote about the pork chops I thawed and cooked tonight.

              2. re: fldhkybnva

                Thank you! I tend to be over careful when it comes to food and figured the meat would be ok, but just wanted to be sure.

                I thawed the pork chops today under cold running water and noticed after they thawed that they had some dark brown coloring on them, probably freezer burn, and had a slight bad smell, I guess it is a gamey type smell- I also have a cold and can barely smell anything so the fact that I could smell the meat makes me think it went bad. Hubby ate them, but I refused to lol.

                Do you think the pork chops were ok? I am thawing the chicken in the fridge overnight, and am hoping it won't have a smell like the pork did.

                1. re: valia

                  They were in there for a few days? All of that sounds odd.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    They were only in the fridge for two days, then I stuck them in the freezer. I forgot to thaw them during the day so I just ran them under cold water- they were thin cut pork chops so they didn't take long to thaw.

                    1. re: valia

                      Not sure freezer burn happens in 2 days. The meat can oxidize and change color but that doesn't make it bad. I think you might be being a little "over careful."

              3. I'm surprised by some of the replies on this thread. She said she bought them unfrozen(title states raw) on 2/9 with best by dates of 1/18 and 1/14. That's more than three weeks later. The one thing that doesn't surprise me is the pork smelled bad. Wonder what those chicken leg quarters in juices will be like when thawed.

                7 Replies
                1. re: miss_belle

                  Good pick up. Uh why did the store still have them?

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    This thread is somewhat confusing. Maybe when she said unfrozen she meant the store froze them(after the best by date which would account for the bad pork) then thawed and put out for sale or maybe she just has the dates wrong? She'll be back I'm sure to clarify.

                    1. re: miss_belle

                      No, I bought them unfrozen/fresh. The dates were actually February, as stated above... do you think they're ok? I'm making the chicken today (it's been thawing since last night when I took it out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge) and really would like to enjoy some meat today lol.

                      1. re: valia

                        As long as it smells ok it should be fine.

                        1. re: miss_belle

                          The pork had a slight smell. Hubby still ate it though and he didn't get sick. Hopefully the chicken won't smell, looking forward to eating meat tonight lol.

                          1. re: miss_belle

                            I've done what OP is doing many times with no smell, no noticeable change in quality. This is quite confusing to me as well. You bought them 2/9, both are still within their sell by date and were in the freezer for 2 days. They should be more than fine.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Hubby said he couldn't smell the pork, but I definitely smelled something. Maybe I just have a more sensitive nose. I think I'll eat the chicken even if it does have a slight smell if hubby says he can't smell anything again.