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To Refreeze, or Not to Refreeze

On the way home from the grocery, you get delayed so much that the frozen meat you have bought thaws out. Should you refreeze it?

We’ve been told by reliable authorities that it’s not good to refreeze uncooked meat. Why not? If freezing the meat in the first place helps preserve it, why doesn’t this work the second time around?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that all food has some bacteria in it, but normally not enough to hurt us. We freeze uncooked meat so that bacteria will not grow in it. However, freezing does not kill all the bacteria that are already there, it just puts them in a kind of suspended animation. When the meat is thawed the bacteria come back to life and begin reproducing.

If the uncooked meat is refrozen these new bacteria are put into suspended animation along with their living ancestors. This means that when the meat is rethawed there are not only the parents and their offspring, but the grandkids, great-grandkids, and so on, all reproducing faster than the proverbial rabbits. In other words, there are many more generations of bacteria to cause illness.

By refreezing uncooked meat we increase the odds of becoming sick from eating it because we give harmful bacteria more chances to reproduce and thrive. If you can’t cook it soon, throw it away, or give it to the dog, who is not as sensitive to those bacteria.

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