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May 19, 2012 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Freezer disaster! I came home from a week long trip to discover that the seal on my freezer had failed, and that everything at the front of the freezer had thawed. Everything at the back was coated in ice. But what about the stuff in the middle?

In particular, I'm worried about a frozen lasagna, and a styrofoam flat of six chicken breasts. The lasagna is close enough to the back that it could have stayed cold enough not to rot. The chicken was arranged on a long piece of styrofoam, so one end touched the back of the freezer, while the other end was at the front of the freezer. So the chicken breasts in back stayed frozen, while the ones in front thawed.
So, do I just throw all of this food out and cry? Keep half of the chicken breasts? What's a broke and hungry girl to do?
posted by pickypicky to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
 
throw out the front of the chicken, keep the ones from the back. completely defrost the lasagna (if it's not already), and if it smells okay, cook it. Then you can either re-freeze it or eat it.
posted by Kololo at 10:56 AM on May 19, 2012


You can use your judgement, but the bacteria that cause food poisoning do not always have a smell, or appearance.
posted by Mercaptan at 11:03 AM on May 19, 2012


I know it sucks to feel like you're throwing away money when you're broke, but I think you've got to just regard that as money that's already gone and throw away the food. Food poisoning is no joke, and you don't know how long that stuff has been thawing, or how thawed/frozen it really is.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:16 AM on May 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


i would go by the supposition that all the pieces of the lasagne are precooked before assembly, give it a good (clean-fingered or thermometered) poke by way of getting a good idea of how cold the inside is, bake and eat the crap out of it, not refreezing and maybe inviting friends over to eat it with me once i knew it wasn't a ticket to puke city (so that eating 15 servings of lasagne in a row didn't drive me insane).

the chicken i would mostly throw except for the very backest frozen ones, and again, no refreezing once thawed and cooked.

i'd only do these if i knew for sure the frozen food had stayed continuously frozen, wasn't in some sort of thaw-refreeze zone, and there weren't any known wild-card pathogenic vectors in my kitchen. broke, livin' on the edge, ymmv.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 11:27 AM on May 19, 2012


The expense of getting food poisoning is a lot higher than the expense of 6 chicken breasts and some lasagna.

Sorry about this. Throwing away food is always painful.
posted by k8lin at 11:27 AM on May 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would definitely bin the chicken with no regrets, but would probably eat the lasagna, since, as mentioned above, it was precooked.
posted by elizardbits at 12:04 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heavy sigh. I'm off to grab the hefty bags and get to work. Thanks everyone, for helping me find the fortitude to do What Needs to Be Done.
posted by pickypicky at 12:17 PM on May 19, 2012


Your homeowner's or renter's insurance (if any) might cover the cost of the food, by the way.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:33 PM on May 19, 2012


Part of the issue is, you know that today the stuff in the front is melted and the stuff in the back is frozen hard. But you don't know what it was on Wednesday, or how quickly your freezer responded to the seal breaking; it's quite possible that some of the stuff in the middle also spent time thawed before freezing.
posted by Lady Li at 1:55 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Consider putting one or two ziplock bags of ice cubes (5 or 6) in the freezer, front and back. I have a chest freezer and have one in the bottom and one in the bins on top. This way I never have to wonder if the freezer thawed and refroze. The ice will melt out of the cube shape if it ever got too warm for food storage.
posted by saradarlin at 5:06 PM on May 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I see that you've decided to toss the food, which is what I came in here to also suggest.

I the future, freeze 1/3 of a bottle of water on it's side, and then store that bottle upright. This is more effective than ice cubes, because ice cubes can still stay mostly cube shaped even when they've had some meltiness. The thawed water bottle, however, will have a pool of ice at the bottom where there shouldn't be one.
posted by bilabial at 5:38 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My advice is to toss ALL of the food, even the stuff in the back that is coated in ice. I know AskMe is casual about foodborne illness, but you have no way of knowing what happened in that freezer over your week away, and it's better to be out the cost of all the food than over the toilet vomiting for three days.
posted by twiggy32 at 12:41 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chicken could be sketchy. I'd probably enjoy the lasagna. A full freezer is more efficient, so definitely keep bottles of water in it. I squeeze them a bit(to compensate because water expands when frozen), then put the lid on and freeze. They're nice to take on a picnic or camping because once they that, you have nice cool water.
posted by theora55 at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2012


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