Give Now  »

Noon Edition

Is It Safe To Refreeze Meat? Why Or Why Not?

On the way home from the grocery, you get delayed so much that the frozen meat you've bought thaws out. The question for this Moment of Science is should you refreeze it?

Can You Refreeze Meat A Second Time Around?

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.


But 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.

Increase Odds Of Sickness

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.

So if you can't cook it soon, throw it away, or give it to the dog, who is not as sensitive to those bacteria.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science