Safe Defrosting Methods For Consumers
UH, OH! You’re home and forgot to thaw something for dinner. You grab a package of meat or chicken and use hot water to thaw it fast. But is this safe? What if you remembered to take food out of the freezer, but forgot and left the package on the counter all day while you were at work? Neither of these situations is considered safe, and these methods of thawing may lead to foodborne illness. Raw or cooked meat, poultry or egg products, as any perishable foods, must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” They are safe indefinitely while frozen. However, as soon as they begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply. Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly. When thawing frozen food, it’s best to plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 40 °F or below. There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.