Help! I accidentally defrosted the freezer

Yikes I accidentally defrosted the freezer – Can I refreeze thawed food?

This article covers what you can safely refreeze, what can be cooked and frozen and what you should throw away. Refreezing itself is not inherently unsafe although the risk of illness depends on how the food is handled between the original thawing and refreezing. 

Okay to refreeze once:
  • Food thawing in fridge, still mostly frozen, with ice crystals
  • Cooked food thawed in fridge, refreeze unused, unheated portion
  • once. Discard heated leftovers
  • Thawed cakes, biscuits, breads, fruits and fruit juices are okay to refreeze once if no strong ‘yeasty’ smell
  • Thawed snap frozen meat, poultry or fish is okay to refreeze if still below 4°C or transported and handled safely and spent less than 2 hours in temperature danger zone
  • Unknown length of time in temperature danger zone ? Discard. Do not refreeze, eat or cook
Do not refreeze:
  • Cooked food thawed in microwave or running water, reheat thoroughly and eat.
  • Raw food thawed in fridge – cook thoroughly, and freeze leftovers
  • Raw food thawed in microwave or running water – cook thoroughly. OK to freeze once cooked
  • Unknown length of time in temperature
  • danger zone
  • Discard. Do not refreeze, eat or cook

 

Food thawing in fridge, still mostly frozen,
with ice crystals
Okay to refreeze once
Cooked food thawed in fridge Okay to refreeze unused, unheated portion
once. Discard heated leftovers
Cooked food thawed in microwave or running
water
Do not refreeze – reheat thoroughly and eat.
Discard leftovers
Raw food thawed in fridge Do not refreeze – cook thoroughly, and
freeze leftovers
Raw food thawed in microwave or running water Do not refreeze – cook thoroughly. OK to freeze leftovers once
Thawed cakes, biscuits, breads, fruits and
fruit juices
Okay to refreeze once if no strong ‘yeasty’
smell
Thawed snap frozen meat, poultry or fish Okay to refreeze if still below 4°C or
transported and handled safely and spent
less than 2 hours in temperature danger
zone
Unknown length of time in temperature
danger zone
Discard. Do not refreeze, eat or cook
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