Some foods need to be kept in the fridge to help slow down bacterial growth and keep them fresh and safe for longer. Generally, the colder the temperature the slower bacteria will grow, but cold temperatures don't stop bacteria growing altogether (for example, listeria monocytogenes).
Keeping food in the freezer
Freezing is a great way of storing food, keeping leftovers and cutting down waste. In theory, frozen food could be stored safely forever, but in truth food can change texture after a while and could become unpleasant to eat. Best to check food labels and your freezer guide just in case.
- For safety, it's ok to freeze most raw or cooked foods providing you do the following things:
- Freeze food before the 'use by' date
- Follow any freezing or thawing instructions on the label
- Thaw food in the fridge so that it doesn't get too warm[EL(1] . Or, if you intend to cook it as soon as it's defrosted, you could defrost it in a microwave
- Use food within one to two days after it’s been defrosted – it will go off in the same way as if it were fresh
- Cook food until it's steaming hot all the way through or reaches a core temperature of 75°C
The low temperatures at which we freeze food pauses the growth of bacteria. It works by delaying the chemical reactions in food and although the bacteria is still alive, it can’t spoil the food.
It’s important to remember that any harmful bacteria present before freezing will still be there when you defrost. This is why it’s important that food doesn’t enter the ‘Danger Zone’ because bacteria will survive freezing and make you ill.
This is why we also advise that once food has been defrosted it should not be frozen again, unless it has been cooked first to make it safe. Once food has been deforested it should be treated as fresh and eaten within two days.
Defrosting meat and fish can leave them in a puddle. This liquid could contain bad bacteria so it’s best to keep it covered or in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge so it can’t drip down onto it.
You can freeze again once cooked- but you’ll only be able to reheat it once after that.
The safest way to defrost meat is in the fridge. That’s because when food is above 8°C and below 63°C bacteria can grow and multiply – this is known as the ‘Danger Zone’. By defrosting in the fridge, your food will defrost slowly and be safe to eat.