If you’ve every left frozen chicken or beef out on the kitchen counter to quickly thaw, that’s a bad move that can lead to food poisoning, according to food safety experts.
With more people cooking at home these days and saving money by buying and bulk and freezing, Consumer Reports looks at the safest ways to thaw.
Not only should you not leave meat out in room temperature to defrost, running hot water over it is another risky move.
“These methods can allow parts of the food to reach temperatures above 40 degrees, which enables any bacteria there to multiply quickly and may lead to food-borne illness,” said Sana Mujahid, Ph.D. of Consumer Reports.
The safest way is always in the refrigerator because foods maintain a safe temperature below 40 degrees, she said.
One pound of frozen ground beef or boneless chicken takes a full day.
After thawing, poultry and seafood remain safe in the fridge for a day or two at most. Red meats are safe for three to as much as five days.
If you need dinner on the table soon, Mujahid suggests putting frozen meat in a sealed plastic bag and submerge in cold water. The water should remain cold, so change it every 30 minutes. It will take about an hour for one pound of meat to thaw this way and it should be cooked immediately.
If you’re in big hurry, there is a thaw setting on the microwave. However, Consumer Reports said parts of the food may begin to cook, encouraging bacteria growth. So, if you thaw in the microwave, cook immediately.