can you defrost and refreeze ground beef

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, if you thawed your ground beef in the refrigerator and it has only been in there for a short time (three days or less), it’s perfectly OK to refreeze it.

Like other raw meats, ground beef can spoil quickly and should be handled with extra caution. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), this type of meat is particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, a bacterium that can survive cold temperatures. Additionally, it can become contaminated with Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and other pathogens during handling and storage. To stay safe, you should freeze it or store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for no more than two days and then cook it at 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Defrosting ground beef is relatively easy — you can thaw your meat in the microwave, leave it in the refrigerator, or submerge it in cold water. As a rule of thumb, dont leave it at room temperature or thaw it in hot water. Also, its safe to refreeze uncooked ground beef, but only if it was initially thawed in the fridge. Note that most foods, including ground meat, lose moisture through thawing, which can affect their quality.

Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.

If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly, according to USDA.

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Freezing and Food Safety: Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), United States Department of Agriculture

Safety will depend on whether the raw product was handled properly before it was frozen, refrozen shortly after it was thawed, cooked to a safe temperature when it is eaten and handled safely if there are any leftovers.

The right way to refreeze thawed ground beef

Buying ground beef can be tricky, given the risk of bacterial contamination. However, freezing and thawing it is even more challenging. The USDA warns that bacteria can grow and spread quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and, therefore, you should never leave the meat on the countertop for longer than one or two hours. The same can happen if you thaw the meat in the microwave or in cold water and then refreeze it.

As previously mentioned, its safe to refreeze ground beef that has been thawed in the refrigerator, according to the USDA. Just make sure it doesnt stay longer than one or two days in the fridge. If you thawed the meat in the microwave or in cold water, cook it thoroughly before freezing it to kill harmful bacteria. All in all, you can refreeze partially or fully thawed meat thats still cold to the touch.

Repeatedly thawing and freezing ground beef can alter its quality. Given this aspect, its best to cook your meat after thawing it instead of putting it back in the freezer. For example, you could make ground beef with onions and peppers for a quick, light dinner. If you have a large package of ground beef, use it for meatloaf, casseroles, stuffed peppers, or shepherds pie.

According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, if you thawed your ground beef in the refrigerator and it has only been in there for a short time (three days or less), it’s perfectly OK to refreeze it.

FAQ

Can you refreeze ground beef that has been thawed?

Ground beef that has been thawed in the fridge is safe to refreeze as is. The raw meat should be refrozen within two days of it being thawed. To freeze ground beef, wrap the package in plastic wrap, aluminum foil or freezer paper, or place in a freezer-safe bag, before freezing to minimize the risk of freezer burn.

Can you freeze ground beef 2 times?

How many times can you thaw and refreeze ground beef? If you froze ground beef and thawed if safely (in the refrigerator), then you can refreeze it. We do not recommend doing this more than once, as it will cause freezer burn and a loss of taste and texture when you cook the meat.

Why can’t you refreeze thawed beef?

Refrigerator-thawed, raw or cooked meat is safe to refreeze, though the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns the meat may lose some quality due to moisture loss. You should not refreeze foods that have been outside of the fridge for more than two hours – or one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees.

Can frozen foods be frozen again within once they are thawed?

When is it safe to refreeze food? 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.

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