Is it safe to refreeze a thawed turkey? According to the CDC, one million Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry every year in the United States. In this article, we’ll explore the dangers of refreezing raw turkey, and how to safely refreeze a thawed turkey. We’ll also provide tips for buying frozen turkeys, as well as recipes for cooked turkeys.
Every year, one million Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry in the United States. So, if you are wondering if it Is safe to refreeze a thawed turkey, you are not alone.
As a general guide, it is safe to refreeze thawed turkey. While CDC reports that nearly one million Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry meat, refreezing thawed turkey is safe when done the right way.
Overall, It is safe to refreeze turkey, whether it is cooked or not, as long as you do so within three days of thawing it. It’s only safe to refreeze turkey if it’s been handled properly at every stage of the process. It’s important to keep in mind that when you defrost and cook your turkey, it may be a little drier.
But, to understand how safe refreezing thawed turkey is, let’s explore further with you the dangers of refreezing raw turkey, and how to safely refreeze a thawed turkey. We’ll also provide tips for buying frozen turkeys, as well as recipes for cooked turkeys.
The danger of refreezing raw turkey
Every year, one million Americans get sick from eating contaminated poultry meat in the United States. This number is especially alarming when you consider that most of these illnesses are preventable.
According to the CDC, refreezing thawed raw turkey is safe, however, when the entire handling of your turkey gets compromised, it can turn the very same safest process of refreezing thawed turkey into the most unsafest environment with consequential impact.
There are multiple reasons why:
- It can allow bacteria like “Salmonella” and “Campylobacter”, as well as parasites such as “Cryptosporidium” and “Toxoplasma gondii”, to spread quickly. This is especially true if the turkey thawed on your counter at room temperature, or in cold water.
- It can lead to cross-contamination if you don’t wash your hands after handling the raw turkey. If you do not wash your hands after touching it, bacteria like “Salmonella” and “Campylobacter”, as well as ” Cryptosporidium” and “Toxoplasma gondii “, can spread to anything else you touch, including the sink, countertops, knives, cutting boards, utensils or any other surfaces.
- It can cause many cross-contamination hazards if it is not cooked thoroughly (which of course defeats the purpose of storing it in the freezer).
- It can affect the taste of your turkey, as it may end up with a drier texture.
How to safely refreeze a thawed turkey
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make sure that your turkey stays safe throughout the process of refreezing thawed turkey:
- If you are unsure if your turkey is fully thawed, cook it anyway. If you are not sure if your turkey is completely defrosted or not, cook it regardless. Although this will take a little longer, the food safety benefits outweigh any other considerations for safety at that point.
- If possible, keep your raw and cooked meat separate to prevent cross-contamination. This is the best way to ensure that your turkey stays safe.
- However, it can be difficult to cook a fully thawed turkey in a timely manner, so if you have concerns or doubts, you can begin by cooking it and see how it turns out. If there are any leftovers from this initial effort, you can refreeze them.
- If possible, keep your raw and cooked meat separate to prevent cross-contamination. This is the best way to ensure that your turkey stays safe from bacteria like “Salmonella” and “Campylobacter”, as well as parasites such as ” Cryptosporidium” and “Toxoplasma gondii”.
- If you do plan to refreeze thawed turkey, it is best to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that it can take up to three days for your turkey to defrost completely when it is placed in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually located at or near the back of the unit).
- Before refreezing thawed turkey, it’s important to clean your fridge. After you defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, make sure that you wash and sanitize anything that may have come into contact with the raw or cooked turkey. This means removing all food items and shelf-stable packages from where the turkey was placed, washing the shelf or bin with hot, soapy water and then sanitizing it.
- If you will not eat your turkey for several days, we recommend placing it back in the freezer (rather than refreezing). This way, if you decide that you won’t eat it right away after all, you can easily take it back out of the freezer without worrying about refreezing it.
According to the USDA, if kept in a freezer at zero degrees Fahrenheit or less, it can remain safely frozen for up to four months. If you have a chest-style freezer and fill it as full as possible, your turkey may be safe from freezing even longer – possibly six months or more.
If you decide to refreeze thawed turkey, it is best to keep the meat in vacuum-sealed bags or tightly wrapped and sealed packages to reduce the chances that bacteria will contaminate other food items in your freezer. If you do not have a vacuum sealer, placing a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the turkey before re-wrapping it will help limit the risk of cross-contamination.
It’s also best to package your turkey in meal-sized portions that can be used right away after thawing, so you don’t have any food sitting out unnecessarily. If you do use leftover turkey for later meals, place it back in the freezer as soon as possible.
If you refreeze cooked or uncooked turkey within three days of thawing, you won’t risk contaminating the food with bacteria. The only time you should re-freeze turkey is if it’s been handled properly at every step of the way. Make a mental note that your turkey may be slightly drier after defrosting and cooking.
Turkey is a popular holiday meal and we recommend that if you decide to refreeze thawed turkey rather than cooking it all at once, be sure to follow the tips and guidance above.
Make sure that your fridge and freezer are clean and sanitized to avoid any bacterial contamination. Finally, remember to store raw meat separate from ready-made meals and fruits in your fridge.