Tips on Preparing Foods Safely – Part 1: The Big Thaw

Thawing frozen food correctly is critical for keeping food safe to serve and to eat. The FDA Food Code states that the temperature of food should not exceed 41 °F during the thawing process. You and your staff must plan ahead so that there is appropriate time and method for thawing.

There are only four acceptable methods for thawing food: in a refrigerator, under cold running water, in a microwave, or as part of the cooking process.  Leaving food out to thaw in temperatures of 41 °F – 135 °F is in the danger zone and should be avoided.  Thawing foods on the counter results in bacteria growing on the food; making it unsafe.

Keep it cold – Moving your frozen foods directly into refrigeration is an excellent way to thaw foods.  The food is never in the temperature danger zone. Remember also to never overload your refrigeration as this limits air flow.

Under cool running water – The temperature of the running water should be 70 °F or below. This temperature will keep you from actually undercooking the food.  The water should be at a sufficient flow as to agitate the loose particles of food.

The microwave Thawing in a microwave is an approved method as long as you cook the food immediately after the thawing process.

Cook it –   Easier said than done, especially with foods that take a long time to cook.  This process works well when you’re working with less dense foods, like hamburgers.

Lastly, when in doubt, throw it out!


This is part one in our summer series of blogs focusing on preparing food safely.

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