Frozen food

We have a second refrigerator in our garage. Last night, the door to the freezer section was left open. I did not discover this until 6:00 this morning, meaning that the frozen food was exposed to the Florida heat for approximately eight hours. Most of the meat that was in the freezer was semi-soft to the touch. I fear most of it was completely thawed. So, should I cook it all today? Pitch it out? Re-freeze it? What?

The reason we are told not to re-freeze thawed items is twofold:

-Thawing at room temperature can allow bacteria to multiply, refreezing does not kill them, just renders them (nearly)dormant, thawing again enables more bacterial growth; the greater the number of bacteria present, the greater the risk that incomplete cooking will get rid of them all, and the greater risk that there will be bacterial toxins present that are not destroyed by normal cooking processes.

-Repeated thawing and freezing can result in texture changes in the foodstuff and can cause it to dry out (ice crystals ‘clump’ together in/on the food, then drain away, leaving it drier) - indeed there are places in the world where food is traditionally preserved/dried by exposing it to repeated natural freeze/thaw cycles.

how much meat are we talking about here? Is an impromtu BBQ out of the question?

In any case, if it was still partly frozen, this should mean that it has not been warmed up into the ‘danger zone’, so finishing the thawing process in the refrigerator should leave you with products that are quite safe to store and eat as normal.

Check your home contents insurance - it may cover the cost of freezer contents.


I think parts of it would have thawed to the danger zone. I’d pitch it if I were you. My husband would cook it and eat it, but he hasn’t puked since he was in Vietnam in 1964, so his opinion doesn’t count.

Seems pretty unlikely if the items were still part-frozen - the thawed portions would almost certainly have still been kept below normal refrigerator temps by the ice remaining in the frozen parts.

When in doubt,
Throw it out.

Actually, this applies to an enormous assortment of problems we face throughout our lives, including people.