Is It Safe To Refreeze Food?

Common sense still wins out.

My mother was adamant, back in the 60s/70s, that you should never refreeze any food. I never doubted that opinion but it came up in a recent conversation and I thought I would finally do some research.

My cat, Cort, opened my freezer door and it stayed open all night. Everything had melted and/or started thawing so I just put it all in the fridge and cooked it within the next day or so. The question is, could I have just closed the door and everything would have been fine?

My research took me straight to the USDA and I was surprised. They said, “If raw or cooked food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking or heating, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing.”

I probably did the best thing possible but It would have been perfectly fine to refreeze. It seems the cell walls of food that is frozen are ruptured. This is why fresh food sometimes tastes better than frozen. Refreezing causes more cellular damage and possibly decreased tastiness.

The safety spot seems to be about 40 degrees F. If the food has warmed above this temperature, it is better “safe than sorry” to just toss it. If you cook the food then it is fine to freeze the leftovers. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion.

If you buy frozen foods at the grocery and it begins thawing on the drive home it is safe to refreeze according to the USDA. Juice concentrates will ferment (a chemical change because of the action of yeast or bacteria, which may cause it to produce bubbles or heat, or turn sugars in it into alcohol) rapidly, so it is best not to refreeze. Ice Cream will never have the same texture so it is best to toss. Casseroles, pot pies, stews, and pasta that you’ve made are fine to freeze, but they will start to go bad when you thaw them a second time. By nature, baked goods are pretty dry and don’t change much in the freezer. As long as it’s not moldy or stale go ahead and refreeze bread, muffins, un-iced cakes, tortillas, etc.



Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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