Things to Consider When Freezing and Thawing Food

Freezing and thawing food properly is important. For instance, thawing it at room temperature could create a breeding ground for the multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms. 
Things to Consider When Freezing and Thawing Food

Last update: 05 June, 2021

Properly freezing and thawing food is critical when it comes to ensuring its safety. Mishandling can lead to the proliferation of microorganisms that are harmful to humans.

This is why we must be rigorous in the method of food preservation. Otherwise, we’ll be subject to food poisoning that can lead to gastrointestinal problems or even greater complications.

Freezing food the right way

You must take the packaging into account. Separate the pieces if necessary when it comes to meats, as it facilitates defrosting at a later date.

In addition, don’t break the cold chain from the time you buy the food until you place it in the freezer. This is because doing so enhances a breeding ground for microorganisms such as salmonella, as stated in this article published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection.

Fresh food, except for fruit and eggs, shouldn’t be at room temperature. Refrigerate or freeze it after bringing it home. The longer you keep it out of these the higher the risk of microbiological growth.

In addition, use plastic as the primary packaging for freezing. Also, vacuum-sealing improves the shelf life of any product.

A freezer with several bags of food.
Freezing food in individual packages helps reduce the risk of contamination.

Thawing food correctly

One of the most critical points of proper food handling is knowing how to thaw it. Don’t do it at room temperature as it’s the perfect breeding ground for microbiological activation.

Most of the microorganisms in a product die at very low temperatures, although the roe they deposit on the surface is quite resistant. This is precisely why the risk of hatching increases when they remain in a relatively warm environment for a long period of time.

Common diseases such as botulism are due to poor food hygiene practices, according to a publication by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. For this reason, it’s important to store it in the refrigerator.

In addition, it’s necessary to plan the time of consumption in advance and take it out of the freezer with enough time to thaw it in the fridge.

Another option that’s useful with frozen vegetables and other small frozen foods, is to place them directly into the cooking pot. This is microbiologically safe but will affect the organoleptic qualities of the product.

Freezing and then thawing food in water

A quick method of defrosting food is to place it in hot water. This can be risky as it creates a situation where microorganisms can reactivate. Be sure the water is cold if you choose to thaw food in it.

In addition, you can use the microwave for defrosting food at the last minute. This appliance usually has a special function for this purpose. However, the process will also affect the organoleptic characteristics of the product.

A few chunks of tuna fish.
The water must be cold for defrosting in it, the risks increase otherwise.

Do you ever wonder, Is It Safe to Remove Mold From Food and Eat the Rest?

Always exercise proper hygiene when thawing and freezing food

Food hygiene processes allow you to consume food safely and any mishandling could lead to intoxication that puts the functioning of your organism at risk

The most common ones involve gastrointestinal symptoms. However, there are some pathogens capable of causing damage to the rest of the organs. Thus, be really cautious when thawing food.

Don’t ever thaw at room temperature or in warm water. Also, the safest options are the defrosting function of the microwave and cold water immersion.

The more aggressive the defrosting process, the more it will affect the organoleptic characteristics of the product. For this reason, relatively slow defrosting in the refrigerator is always the best option.

Finally, keep in mind that freezing doesn’t alter the nutritional properties of food. So buying frozen fruits and vegetables allows you to keep them longer without affecting their nutritional quality.

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  • Jeffery LA., Karim S., Botulism. StatPearls [Internet], 2020.
  • Morton VK., Kearney A., Coleman S., Viswanathan M., Chau K., Orr A., Hexemer A., Outbreaks of salmonella illnes associated with frozen raw breaded chicken products in Canada, 2015-2019. Epidemiol Infect, 2019.
  • Evans, J. A. (2009). Frozen Food Science and TechnologyFrozen Food Science and Technology (pp. 1–355). Blackwell Publishing Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444302325
  • Heldman, D. R. (2006). Food freezing. In Handbook of Food Engineering, Second Edition (pp. 427–470). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-646380-4.50011-6