How Safe to Eat is That Frozen Food?

Catherine Roberts
by Catherine Roberts | November 6, 2013 @ 11:15 am | 0 

If you’re like me and freeze a load of leftovers only to forget about them until months later when I need an ice pick to detach the hoarfrost-encrusted Tupperware container from the recesses of my deep freeze than listen up!

I often scratch my head wondering how long I can freeze food for. Is that leftover lasagna still safe to eat after 4 months in deep freeze limbo?

Well it seems that food safety experts are finally weighing in on my “to eat or not to eat” dilemma.

It seems that I’ve done something right (finally) in my decision to freeze my leftovers. As opposed to other preserving methods, like canning, which if done improperly can cause botulism, popping your food in the deep freeze can actually enhance its safety and longevity.

“…There’s a common misperception that people think food becomes unsafe the longer it sits in the freezer, says Elizabeth Andress, a food safety specialist at University of Georgia at Athens and the U.S. National Center for Home Food Preservation. “While something’s actually frozen in the freezer…quality can continue to deteriorate, but there’s really no safety issues while it’s in the freezer.”

However, it’s the thawing of those leftovers that leave you prone to food poisoning and illness.

To help guide you, Andress offers the following freezing and thawing tips for frozen foods:

1. As you prepare food for freezing—for instance, are your hands, the food preparation surface, and the containers clean and sanitized?

2. Cooked foods should always be cooled prior to freezing. However, letting food sit around at room temperature for long periods of time can also cause sickness. For this reason, you can put food, under 40-degrees Fahrenheit, in the fridge before freezing

3. Thaw frozen food, especially meat proteins, in the refrigerator not on the counter overnight where they are prone to bacteria growth.

4. For quick thawing, submerge frozen foods in their packaging in cold water, but make sure the water remains cold and doesn’t warm up. Adding ice cubes can provide an indication that the water is cold.

5. It is safe to refreezing food—as long as it was frozen and thawed safely in the first place.

Source: CTV News