To preserve the quality of your food, you must avoid a breakdown in the cold chain. Here are some dos and don'ts on defrosting food, to avoid getting sick.
It's happened to us all. You come home from work, it's late, and you're very hungry. But there's a problem: the chicken is still in the freezer. It needs to be defrosted as quickly as possible, so you can eat and not go to bed too late. So, you put it in the microwave, or in hot water. However, these methods are not recommended for thawing food. And for good reason, if the cold chain is not broken in the correct way, bacteria can proliferate and food can spoil more quickly. Discover below the mistakes you may be making, which you should remove from your habits as soon as possible.
1. Thawing at room temperature
Probably the most common, this habit is indeed a mistake. When you want to defrost food, it's best not to do it at room temperature. The thermal shock can be damaging to your food. It is best to transfer your beef from the freezer to the refrigerator to let it thaw gradually so as avoid this. In the fridge, bacteria grows slower than on your kitchen counter, at around 20 degrees. Ensure you put the food in a container or freezer bag to prevent water or blood from leaking out and contaminating other items in your fridge.
2. Running under hot water
To speed things up, we often put our chicken under hot water so that the ice melts more quickly. Except, as you know, you absolutely should not wash chicken before cooking it. And that goes for most of the foods you're trying to thaw quickly. Contact with hot water will activate bacterial growth. It's not totally illogical to run frozen food under the tap, but it must be done while the meat is still wrapped. As long as your food is not in direct contact with water, this method is still a good option.
3. Using the microwave
Just like above, you are in a hurry and don't have time to wait for your meat to thaw before cooking. So, you put it in the microwave to speed up the process. While this will thaw your meat, you may also end up with it cooked on the surface and completely raw inside. It's best to put it directly in the pan to minimise damage to the food and ensure don't end up eating shoe leather! The best option, if it is a single piece of meat for example, is still to put it directly in the pan. It will defrost quickly while cooking, without giving bacteria time to grow.
4. Refreezing thawed food
Sometimes you defrost some food, and you can't eat it all, or you take more than you need out of the freezer. In either case, never put back into the freezer food that has already been thawed. It encourages the growth of bacteria and degrades the quality of the food and can cause food poisoning. Similarly, it is not advisable to refreeze food that was bought frozen in a shop and then thawed.