Is it ok to Re-Freeze raw meat, Chcken, Beef, Pork?

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by rich-, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. Many years ago, My mother told me to never re freeze meat that had been previuosly frozen, Unless it is cooked first.

    I'm not sure whether she meant it was unsafe, or that it took away from the flavor of the meats, etc. I was talking to my 83 year old sister in law yesterday, her and her husband used to have their own meat market and worked most of there working life with meat.

    She said she thaws & re freezes meat quite often as now as a widow, she only needs parts of the packages she buys. She suggest that the only reason she could think of not to refreeze is that once meat thaws, blood & fluids run out of the meat and the meat that is refroze might be dry.

    Can some one enlighten me and any others that may have this same question. I'm hoping Pops can give his answer to this as well.

    Thank you all

  2. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

  3. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Good question. I'm curious also.
  4. teeznuts

    teeznuts Master of the Pit

    Good question. I'm curious also.
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    All of the meat you get in the grocery store is frozen then thawed. 

    So when you bring it home & freeze it, it's being refrozen.
  6. Thank you all for the answers and I feel much better now about grinding pork then freezeing it to be mixed into Breakfast Sausage at a latter date.

    Also since my 83 year old sister in law is still well and kicking, Thats says a lot also.

    Thanks again

  7. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    yep, have seen it done although I try to avoid it. Agree with you on the blood loss and some burger or sausage processors will pump water into the product to bump the weight for profit.
  8. Thanks Willie,

    I like cuttung the meat up and grinding one day freeze the meat and do the mixing, stuffin and or smoking at a later day. For me, the clean up is easier.

    I see you list the Willamette Valley as home.

    Born in Roseburg, raised in Eugene out near Cal Young Jr. High school. went to North Eugene High and setteled here in Tacoma after being discharged from my 4 year stint in the Air Force. Been here ever since, But still refer to Eugene as back home.

  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The first time I brought home a twin pack of Pork spares, I only wanted to smoke one of them.

    I was worried about it, when I saw it said "previously frozen" on the pack.

    I froze one & smoked one.

    When I smoked the other one a couple weeks later, it didn't seem any different than the first one.

  10. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    O no don`t tell me that...They wouldn`t do that would they....[​IMG]
  11. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One of the biggest problems in refreezing meat is not the freezing, it's the unthawing.  You thaw out a piece of meat and it has purge (previously discussed) which is moisture.  If you let that meat sit in the sink or on the counter at room temp, even though it's not completely thawed, the juices that run out of it can be above 40° - 50°, 60°, 70° or more.  Or you thaw it in the fridge and take it out and work it; it's juicy and it gets above 40° or more.  What chances does bacteria have to grow in a quarter size pool of juice that's at 70° for an hour, even though you feel the meat and it's still partially frozen and you 'assume' it's 'fine'?  Now, you pick up your meat with the juice and mix it all in or back onto the surface.  Con-Tam-In-A-Tion city!  Cook and serve and everyone gets a quick trip to get their stomachs pumped out.  Or, unused and you refreeze.  The contamination doesn't go away, it just retards and in some cases even frozen it will continue to slowly grow so now when you thaw it out a second time, it's growing rapidly, faster than before and recontaminates the product.  Refreezing three or more times and you're risking serious health dangers; not from the action of freezing and thawing itself, but of more and more unchecked bacteria growth accumulating on the meat.

    From the moment you place a piece of meat on a clean surface, that surface is contaminated and will continue to re-contaminate any meat that it comes in contact with; this is why ground meat  shelf life is only good for 24 hours from a grocery store; from a packing plant practicing sterile conditions, the same meat has up to a 45 day shelf life.  That is how important surface contamination is and to avoid it.  Refreezing meat, thawing, freezing, rethawing, refreezing, I'm sure you can see the contamination opportunities present and you should avoid it if at all possible.

    Oh, and I should add that chicken has 7 times the contamination opportunities than beef or pork, too.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    DUDE!!! Pops, excellent info! I was hoping you'd jump on this...I was trying to figure out how to explain it, but you covered my thoughts precisely, and then some, and explained all the reasoning behind it.

    Glad you're still addressing these issues for us with your extensive are a huge asset here.

    Thanks a mega-ton, brother!

    BWT: if I thaw meat, I cook the entire package, in a timely manner...if we bring home bulk packages of ground meats, chops, steaks, ect (6-10lbs/pack, example), whatever we don't think will get eaten without excessive leftovers, we break-down into smaller parcels, re-package and then freeze it...sometimes it's hard to convince the wife and kids that this needs to be done, but if you're going to spend the extra cash for larger packages, you may as well get your money's worth from it by not freezing in packages larger than you will use for one meal. Sometimes it's not an option, or is difficult to do, as with butts or brisket, but that's when the cook & freeze comes into play, or you can cure a portion of the meat for smoking at a later date, and smoke-up the remains right away. Then, you have an excuse to do some curing...ha-ha!

    Play it safe, all, and great smokes!

  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Pops!!!

    When it comes to any of this meat stuff & safety, You're still smarter than the average Bear !!!

  14. I recall a general rule of thumb that from a safety perspective you can freeze and refreeze a piece of meat to your heart's content so long as the total time outside of the freezer before cooking does not exceed the generally recommended "three to five days". In other words, refreezing a piece of meat does not extend the aggregate period of time that the meat can remain unfrozen as freezing does not kill bacteria it simply suspects/retards its growth.

    I think this pretty closely supports what Pops is saying above.

    Rich I suspect your mom's rule was based on the fact that the generally accepted view of her day was that you were turning your meat to leather by refreezing it, particularly given freezing technology from her day. I also grew up hearing that refreezing was bad and I remember my mother complaining that freezing meat was bad enough but refreezing it made it almost inedible.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  15. POPS and all of the great people that replied to my question, I give you a huge thank you. Pops you broke it down to a point that anybody can understand, Thank you so much.

    I do believe I will continue the practice that my mom told me probably 55 years ago and when meat is thawed out, cook it and use it. That practice has worked for me for all these years, I see no need to change now.

    I am not doubting thats its a safe thing to do, but I will just continue the way I have done it.

    Thanks again to all.

  16. smokin - k

    smokin - k Meat Mopper

    If it looks bad and or smells bad, just smoke it longer... LOL! Seriously great topic and good read! Be safe and Happy Smoking, Smokin - K
  17. laxinfish29

    laxinfish29 Newbie

    Great info!!!

    Now, I understand with the thawing, but what if its just in the cart and home?  Maybe 45 mins to an hour.  Still packaged.  We good to freeze and smoke later?
  18. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes, as long as the meat still contains ice crystals, being still firm to the touch (not hard, but not yet getting soft and spoungy, and with little to no liquified meat juices in package) , you're still frozen, so wouldn't be considered a re-freeze at that point. Just use something to insulate it from any heat while in transit, and a brief time out of the freezer will pretty much go un-noticed as far as the meat is concerned.

  19. laxinfish29

    laxinfish29 Newbie

    Thanks I just reread my post and I explained it horribly.  I got the meat at Sams Club.  It wasnt truly frozen I don't believe, just in their coolers.  Is it not safe to freeze?  I didnt check the package for juices as I didn't think this was even a concern to be honest.  The meat was kind of soft.
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Tried to respond this morning at work on my black berry...something's awry.

    Anyway, we freeze most of our meats as soon as we get home from the store, even if the label reads "previously frozen". Most chicken was frozen before shipping to the grocery store, as well as many other meats, but a sale is a sale...

    As long as you keep it cool while in transit, I wouldn't sweat the's mainly the thawing/refreezing at home which causes concerns...dipping into the shelf life of the meat as well as the risk of too high of temps reached inside the package.

    We grab cases of meats at Sam's (brisket, loin back ribs and butts, mainly), un-box and pack it all up layered in ice in a cooler for the 90 mile drive back home...get 'em home, and toss it all straight to the freezer...unless I have a smoke project I want to start, then a couple pieces may land in my small meat fridge for a day or two.

    Basically, any meat we won't cook within 2 days after buying gets frozen. Oh, if you get any manager's specials or any meats nearing the use by/sell by date, it's a good idea to just cook it up right away instead of freezing/thawing and tacking on more thawed time from the safe life of the product.


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