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Refreezing - Is it safe to refreeze foods without cooking?


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#1 Jean

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 05:53 AM

Hi!

I would like to know if there is any risk in refreezing raw foods without cooking, if the foods were thawed in a refrigerator? Is this practiced by any caterers?

http://www.fsis.usda...ezing/index.asp

BR,

J


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J

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#2 Simon

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 07:23 AM

:off_topic:

Hi Jean, can you post in other forums now??? If not as a temporary fix please post any new topic in the HACCP forum and I will come along and move it to the best place.

Regards,
Simon
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#3 Bobby

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 05:37 PM

Jean,
Freezing is never a risk.It will not lead to multiplication of pathogen.
it is quality that get affected in such processes due to cell rupture( caused by slow freezing) and subesequent loss of water. Such changes are not significant most of the time.

You may have to do this some times in catering business when there is a shortage of some raw food items( meat or fish), probably after portioning.

Why would you want to do this?

Bobby


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#4 Jean

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 01:31 PM

Dear Bobby,



Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I had observed this in the Chinese preparation. The frozen chicken is thawed and cut into small pieces and portioned in several packets. This is stored in the freezer and depending upon the need it is thawed and then used for various recipes like the dumplings



BR



J
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#5 Penard

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:14 PM

Hi Jean,

Just to add one thought, freezing a product after thawing without an intermediate cooking or pre-cooking step is strictly forbidden in the European union. I think it's very strict because of excesses in the past - many hours before refreezing it.

As Bobby said you can have a problem with the texture and the strenghth of your product, which can influence the parameters of cooking, that isn't an issue if you are careful with your process. Anyway, the real question is : what is the delay we can afford between the beginning of thawing and the refreezing? I am not sure you always can assess your product is ok with all these conditions. For sure the chicken is cooked for hours after thawing, but what about other products, like fish for example...


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#6 Bobby

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 06:48 PM

jean,
I guess they put frozen chicken directly into the cooking pan, dont they?

penard,
Refreezing is prohibited in the the manufacturing/trading industry.
But, it is not enforced in food service industry because the chances of temperature abuse of products are very less. Very small quantities are refrozen and it is more for convinience.The end user in this case knows the quality of the product before he uses it.

Fish perishes much faster that other fleshes and it is easy to make out ( soft and smelly) the quality.

Bobby Krishna
Food inspector
Dubai


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#7 Charles.C

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Posted 24 October 2007 - 11:11 PM

Dear All,

Actually refreezing after processing is not so rare in the frozen food manufacturing industry in the case that the original raw material is received in a frozen condition.
As indicated previously, time can be a problem, one significant risk is that if there is an excessive delay in reducing the temperature of (particularly) a wet freezing product, a spoiled odour may occur. Have seen this happen where processors chose to wait until a freezer had a full load before turning the full power on. Similar results can occur by simply overloading the freezer. Slow freezing is generally best avoided where possible.

Rgds / Charles.C


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#8 Jean

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 09:22 AM

Dear All

I have seen chicken, beef and prawns been re-freezed, after portioning into small portions, which will be used in 2-3 days time after being thawed.
Usually these refreezed portions are placed in the reach in freezers in the kitchen.
Yes ,the time taken to freeze after thawing is important. I believe small portions (100gms or 150gms ) take less time to freeze.

J


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J

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#9 Bobby

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 10:14 AM

Jean,
So, the product temperature never go above 5 Deg C, right?

Bobby Krishna


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#10 Jean

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 12:42 PM

Dear Bobby,

Yes, the temperature does not go above 5oC.


J


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J

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#11 Penard

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 02:54 PM

Hi everybody,

Sorry, I disagree with Bobby ( :rolleyes: ), for 2 reasons :

- First, it's right it's better not to exceed 4/ 5°C during the thawing. But you have to be careful too with the couple temperature/ lenght of thawing, you can have your product below 4°C for 2-3 days the result will be different from a one-day thawing product. The weight of your piece of chicken or anything else and the time taken to re-freeze it is not so important as the time you let it thaw and thawed. I completely agree with Charles C., a spoiled odour can occur (fortunately!), and I think it will be the best way to reduce food safety risks.


"But, it is not enforced in food service industry because the chances of temperature abuse of products are very less. Very small quantities are refrozen and it is more for convinience.The end user in this case knows the quality of the product before he uses it."
- Second, in restaurants - but I only know Europ, even if you have the best way to teach some good practices, you will always have some problems with the employees - or 'le chef' - the chief : I won't cut the chicken tonight because I'm tired, it's too late, or I have to re-freeze the chicken because customers haven't chosen to eat it, I will do it tomorrow ('cause I'm lazy!)...You can never control this way of re-freezing, and the spoiled odour won't disturb the employees to cook the chicken one day later for example...That's why I agree with strict regulatory affairs in that case. You can't control all the excesses, the guys who work with good practices and those who don't, it's easier and safer to require some clear rules from everybody.
Last, I am not sure every customer in those restaurants are aware of those practices...and I'm not sure every food service industry are ok with these rules in Europe!

that's just my opinion, because I have worked for years in these 'industries' and restaurants, just in Europe, so if I'm wrong with the rest of the world, iif you don't agree with me do not hesitate!

Regards,

Emmanuel.


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#12 Bobby

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 05:55 PM

Dear Emmanuel,

My answer was limited to food safety risks.

Inadequate thawing before cooking could be a food safety issue. There is a probability that the frozen centre may not get cooked properly.


Spoilage of raw meat due to temperature abuse is a quality issue ( I had mentioned this before) more than a food safety issue. If you cook the food properly,you can kill all the spoilage bacteria!
Temperature abuse can increase the risk of spoilage which is infact a good indicator to a good cook who checks the quality of his raw materials before use.

Sorry for creating the confusion regarding the End User.I assumed that the end user of raw meat is the chef who cooks it. The consumer doesnt see the raw product, instead he gets a cooked product which could absolutely safe (if the food has been cookeed properly).

Bobby


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#13 Charles.C

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 10:42 PM

Dear Bobby,

Spoilage of raw meat due to temperature abuse is a quality issue ( I had mentioned this before) more than a food safety issue.


In the strict microbiological sense I agree with you however evidence of such spoilage is also an indicator of possible/probable temperature abuse having occurred which, (particularly if >ca. 4degC), represents an increased probability that pathogens in the original material could have increased also. This decomposition test is sometimes used as a HACCP "indicator" regarding the safety of incoming raw materials, similar to E.coli's use in sanitation evaluation. It all depends on the specific situation of course.

If you cook the food properly,you can kill all the spoilage bacteria!

Agreed but maybe not necessarily true if heavy contamination / toxin has been produced. Have seen a similar reservation in canning processes where there is typically a note that the recommended sterilisation conditions may not be adequate in the case of "severe" bacteriologically contaminated materials even though safety factors are used in the calculations.

Perhaps it is fortunate that the tendency in Europe is to overcook everything ?! :smile:

I often wonder as to the standardisation of internal procedures for leftovers in restaurants ( particularly small ones maybe) after the last customer goes home since this is obviously an important economic factor regardless of the safety aspect.

Rgds / Charles.C
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#14 Bobby

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 04:10 PM

Dear Charles,
I agree with you. High number of spoilage bacteria indicate temperature abuse. This method of verification is done at the receiving point where we check the quality of our raw materials but not inside the kitchen where you are totally aware of your controls.
Whenever there is a doubt about quality of supply, we recommend retailers to send samples for testing.

However, Jean's question was relatively simple and was specific to catering business ( assuming that the product was received in good condition).


production of toxin in raw food is very rare. It has been noticed in grossly temperature abused fish. The competition from the spoilage bacteria is too much for pathogens to grow and produce toxin.

Regards,

Bobby


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#15 Charles.C

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 08:18 PM

Dear Bobby,

Gettting OT but maybe of some general interest - As you say, most incidents involving bacterial generated toxins in food relate to cooked / processed items. If anybody is interested in the general foodborne illness topic, there is quite a nice, relatively short but quite comprehensive (I think), readable summary here –

http://en.wikipedia....odborne_illness

This also includes some (thankfully mostly infrequent) examples of dangerous raw foods, one well-known seafood case is items contaminated by marine toxins regarding which the UK used to have (maybe still has?) a chain of coastal observation points due to –

“The only method of preventing shellfish poisoning is to avoid eating mollusks that are locally harvested from areas known to be experiencing red tides. Marine shellfish toxins cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing.”

http://wwwn.cdc.gov/...ningMarine.aspx

Rgds / Charles.C

added, PS- in case of over-alarming people, can also see this -

Do all toxins in food survive the cooking process?

No, all toxins in food do not survive the cooking process. In fact, the botulism toxin caused by Clostridium botulinum can be inactivated by cooking. Boiling food for 10 minutes eliminates this toxin. However, many other toxins are heat stable. For example, Staphylococcus can produce toxins that are not destroyed by high cooking temperatures. To prevent toxins from developing in food, don"t leave food sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. On a hot day (90° F or higher), food should not sit out for more than 1 hour.


http://www.cfsan.fda...s/qa-fdb31.html
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#16 Bobby

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 06:23 PM

Charles,
You are right,marine toxins are a concern.
Sea food is becomeing very popular and oysters in the market comes from different parts of the world. Here in Dubai, we get oysters from New Zealand, Australia, France etc ..It is very difficult to ensure safety beacuse we depend fully on the suppliers. When we get notified about any sort of contamination or an outbreak in a region, we stop importing oysters from that country and stop using oysters harvested from the same region.

I think we need to have a separate discussion on safety of food that are consumed raw....
Sushi, Sashimi, capaccios and so on.

Bobby


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#17 D J

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 08:40 AM

Hi,

I am really getting confused with the replies.

1. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and re frozen? ( I am in terms of food safety not quality/texture).

2. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and stored in chillers/fridge, & for how long?

Regards,
Dennis


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DJ

#18 Tony-C

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 02:34 AM

Hi,

I am really getting confused with the replies.

1. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and re frozen? ( I am in terms of food safety not quality/texture).

2. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and stored in chillers/fridge, & for how long?

Regards,
Dennis


Hi Dennis

1. Yes if the appropriate thawing temperature/time controls are put in place.

2. This depends on the refrigeration temperature. Typical guidelines from the IFSQN Food Service Manuals:

Attached File  PRP_024_Refrigerated_Food_Storage_Shelf_Life.pdf   349.03KB   47 downloads

Kind regards,

Tony :smile:
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#19 Gourav

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 05:57 PM

Hi,

I am really getting confused with the replies.

1. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and re frozen? ( I am in terms of food safety not quality/texture).

2. Can a frozen meat item be thawed, chopped and stored in chillers/fridge, & for how long?

Regards,
Dennis



Hi Dennis,
Refreezing of meat is strict no. During thawing there is massive increase in the no of bacteria; hence efreezing is strict no. The phenomenon is still to be fully explained.

Though after thawing the meat should be used as early as possible. We validated the data at my organization. We set the limit of storage for max 24 Hrs after thawing.

Thanks

Gourav
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#20 Rui

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 09:29 PM

Good evening everyone!

 

I have a question related to refreezing that I've been struggling to find any information about.

 

As a business, when you sell a frozen product, should the information " do not refreeze once thawed" be present on the label? Who decides this? Is it mandatory? 

 

So far I could only find information regarding freezing dates but nothing relating to refreezing. 

 

Using frozen chicken as an example, if we sent it frozen to a customer and then we're asked if it can be re-frozen once thawed, what would be the correct answer? 

 

Any help or link to any related legislation/guidelines would be very appreciated. 

 

Thank you 


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#21 Charles.C

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 04:32 AM

Hi Rui,

 

The previous posts illustrate what can go wrong in related situations.

 

Don't know about legislatory but regarding "answer", one likely reason for a polite "No"  is that the manufacturer has zero knowledge of what the customer may have done to it before refreezing or how the latter may itself be carried out, etc etc.

 

I guess the labelling may be a, customer-friendly, "pre-emptive" negative ?

 

Insurance related ?


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Charles.C


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