Food safety is a very important factor in our daily lives. Food poisoning happens more often than most people realize. Those most likely to suffer from the effects are young children and senior citizens who have a lower immune system.
Thawing frozen food is one area of food safety that requires careful planning to ensure that the food is safe to eat.
Freezing does not kill germs; it only stops them from growing. Germs can begin to grow very fast at room temperature, (40F or higher) after a food is thawed.
Never thaw a frozen package on the kitchen counter. Bacteria can multiply rapidly and cooking the food does not always kill the germs.
The safest way to thaw meat is to defrost the meat in the microwave and cook it immediately on the stove or the meat can be thawed in the refrigerator. The following rules should be followed:
Keep refrigerator set at 34 - 40 degrees F.
Do not unwrap frozen meat before defrosting in the refrigerator.
Place meat on a plate so the juices don't drip on other foods.
Leave space around the food in the refrigerator so cool air can circulate.
Bigger packages of food take longer to thaw than smaller packages.
It takes about 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of frozen meat in the refrigerator.