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Meat and Poultry Thaw - Ambient Temperature Equation

beef pork thaw temperature danger zone

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#1 alanna krull

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 01:32 PM

To all, I do not know if this is the correct forum to be posting on but I need help.  I am looking for a scientific publication, equation, or chart that would help me define ambient thawing process.  


In a perfect world I would like to be able to calculate the time of thermal transfer (to thaw) by taking the weight and density of the product, the starting temperature of the product and the ambient temperature of the air and come up with a "how many degrees did it warm up per hour" result.  


I am not a wizard when it come to creating equations, and so I have been searching high and low for some kind of way to support this program.  I know that when I pull product out of a -15 degree freezer that it is not going to be in the temperature danger zone for at least 4-6 hours, and I would like to be able to defend that we do not need to monitor the temperature of the product every hour for the initial period.  I also want to be able to calculate how long it should take before the product is thawed, that way I can correctly stage and manage inventory and labor to execute this project.


In an ideal scenario we would thaw this product under refrigeration, but my facility is looking at moving millions of pound of product, and we do not have the refrigeration space to be able to execute. 


thank you all in advance for any guidance that you can give me.

#2 FurFarmandFork


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Posted 23 February 2018 - 07:04 PM

Note, we will need to know what product(s) you are working with and/or what jurisdictions you are under to help you navigate the legal justification here.


Theoretical data won't help you, that's why there are general standards for hours out of refrigeration. There generally isn't a master formula for complex food products like there is for, say, pure water or ethanol. As an example, a small glob of steak will warm up much quicker than an entire cut of steak, and the surface temperature of the entire cut will heat more quickly (where contamination is greatest) than the center. 


Run an experiment to substantiate your monitoring interval.


Take a representative small sample of your product our of refrigeration and embed a thermometer probe as close to the surface as possible, and also take the temperature of the room itself as a reference point, you will need to repeat the experiment if the room is warmer during different processing periods.


Have someone act as a human datalogger and record the near-surface temperature of the food every ten minutes or so until it enters the danger zone. Add a few minutes of buffer (or repeat the experiment a few times for more precision) and use that as a guide for when you need to do your first temp check rather than every hour.


In general, to give you any sort of confident guidance here we need to know more about the specific situation. Otherwise we have to refer to food code and FDA/USDA standards for refrigeration.

Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

#3 redfox


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Posted 24 February 2018 - 02:19 AM



AFAIK, when thawing frozen product, from freezer it must be thawed in chiller. No thawing recommended in ambient.




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