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colonel00 11-22-2011 10:22 PM

Thawing meat frozen on the "use or freeze by" date
Okay, I need help to settle a little debate here at home. I understand the basics of food product dating and all that jazz when dealing with the product fresh. My question is more about thawing the meat after freezing. If I have a hunk of meat, let's say beef, that has a "use or freeze by" date and it is frozen on that actual date, when I pull the meat to thaw, realistically how much time during and after the thaw do I have until said meat goes bad?

As an example, if I had something that had a freeze by date of yesterday and it went into the freezer yesterday, no problem so far right? Now, let's say I decide I want to cook it this weekend, depending on the size of the cut I may need a day or more to let it thaw in the fridge. So, say I pull it Friday morning with plans to cook it Saturday, that should still be fine right? What if something comes up and plans change, how long can it now sit in the fridge? I know I can always use the smell test but the GF doesn't like relying on that method and I may not want to open the packaging or vac-bag just to smell it. I also understand that I could refreeze since I thawed in the fridge but still I would have to do so within whatever the safe window is.

martyleach 11-22-2011 10:26 PM

You are kinda getting into the gray area after you thaw it out. Obviously, it should be cooked right away since the meat was kinda at the end of its life when you froze it. Personally, if I couldnt cook it right after if thawed out, I would get rid of it.

wyocurt 11-22-2011 10:31 PM

Most of the time the date is just a guide line. The date is that the produce is best if used by the dates stamped on it.

caseydog 11-22-2011 10:36 PM

Technically, thawing the meat means you are back on the clock, so you need to cook it that day.

Realistically, the meat may have been far from going bad when you froze it. Use by dates are not 100 percent accurate predictors of when meat has "gone bad."

I always use my frozen meat right after I thaw it, so it doesn't matter.


Steve W 11-22-2011 10:49 PM

I never like waiting to use meat after it's been thawed, especially if it was originally frozen in your home freezer instead of a commercial flash freeze unit.

Reason being, the ice crystals that form while freezing rupture cell walls, so you have a lot of meat juice and torn cells in the entire piece of meat. It's a lot easier for bacteria to start growing when that happens.

Commercially frozen foods are flash frozen, which means that it's done fast enough that the ice crystals are much smaller and don't cause as much damage to your meat, but I'd still thaw close to the cook day.

tortaboy 11-22-2011 11:31 PM

You're fine....It's not like the meat is perfectly fine one day, and rotten the next based on the label date.

swallytrip 11-22-2011 11:48 PM

Keep in mind too all stores have their own guidlines for meat dating too. Where I cut meat at the scale says the date that it has to be used by and the actual use or sell by date and theres about 4 days differece sometimes. Also we only keep fresh ground beef out a max of 24 hours and it gets reduced an hour or 2 before it expires. Also anything packaged in a cryovac package gets a date when it goes out and technically state laws say we can open it on its sell by day and further process it and gain back the allowed days of fresh cut and packaged meat at that point. So really there is a lot of different guidelins and also it depends on the species of animal too as to what the product life is. The biggest thing that starts the break down process is oxygen and light. The real tender cuts of meat like tenderloin steaks have to go back into the dim cooler everynight or else they start to turn color overnight if not taken out of the case daily.

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