(Safety, Training, Resources, and Education to Combat Hunger)
Food Safety Information Sheet No. 9
Thaw It Right!
Freezing food prevents most bacteria from multiplying but it does not kill them.
Bacteria present on a food before it is frozen can rapidly multiply once the product
thaws. Some foods can be cooked straight from the frozen state, like hamburger patties.
Remember that it will take longer for frozen food to cook than it will for thawed
food. You will generally need to cook frozen meat 1 1/2 times the length of time
required for the same cut when thawed. Many foods cook better if they are thawed
first. The way you thaw frozen food can prevent or encourage the growth of bacteria.
Thawing perishable foods on the counter is unacceptable. Because the outside of
the product will reach room temperature long before the inside thaws, potentially
hazardous microorganisms on the surface can have plenty of time to multiply to dangerous
levels. To safely thaw frozen food, use one of the following methods:
- Thaw in the refrigerator. This is the safest way but you must plan ahead since it
can take 2 or 3 days to thaw large casseroles or pieces of meat.
- Place the food in a watertight plastic bag and submerge in cold water. Change the
water every 20 minutes.
- Thaw in the microowave following the manufacturers' instructions. Because of the
uneven heat produced in the microwave, food defrosted in microwave must be cooked
immediately after thawing.
The larger the item, the longer it will take to thaw. Plan ahead to allow food to
REMEMBER: Never thaw perishable food on the counter!