Defrosting Food Safely

As dietitians, our scope of knowledge goes beyond knowing what is in food and knowing about eating behaviours (that’s a very brief summary). We are also well equipped with knowledge about how to prepare and store food safely, which is more important than a lot of people realise. Storing or preparing foods inappropriately can lead to food based illnesses, which is not an enjoyable experience.

Food safety is something that can be often done very casually, and this can place older people, younger children, and those with compromised immune systems at risk of becoming unwell. Living in a warmer climate, food safety can become an even more important factor to prevent food born illness.

Countries such as Australia and the USA have guidelines published by the bodies that govern food standards to ensure that not only businesses who provide food and supply food, but also us at home prepare and store foods safely. This is why supermarkets, other stores, markets, and food outlets have very strict standards about how food is stored, prepared, and supplied.

Defrosting is a topic that can divide some people, as everyone has different ideas about how to do things, and there is safe and no so safe ways to defrost food.

Tips for Defrosting Food Safely

So at home, how can we ensure that we are defrosting foods safely?

  • Defrost in the fridge! Place the food on a plate on the lowest shelf of the fridge in case it drips, this is particularly important when defrosting raw meats.
  • Ensure that the food is defrosted all the way through. This can take some time in the fridge depending on the size of what you are defrosting.
  • Defrost the food thoroughly, unless it says to cook from frozen.
  • Defrost food in the microwave. Use the defrost setting, and cook the food as soon as it is defrosted, as the outside temperature can be different from the internal temperature of the meet. Always place food on a plate before defrosting to prevent leaking.
  • If microwave defrosted food is not used within 2 hours, throw it away.
  • AVOID DEFROSTING FOOD ON THE BENCH! This is a big no-no that so many people do. Food defrosted at this temperature stays within the danger zone (5-60oC), which promotes the growth of a larger amount of bacteria.
  • When cooking food, ensure that it is heated to at least 75oC or hotter. You will see lot of steam to know it is reheated to an appropriate temperature.
  • And lastly, do no refreeze defrosted foods!

Defrosting water is not a good idea, based on the packages that can be stored, and that the water will significantly fluctuate in temperature.

Food more food safety tips coming into summer, keep watching out for our weekly blogs.