Is this true?
August 3, 2016 1:24 AM   Subscribe

A shop clerk told me today that it wasn't safe for food to go from being frozen, to being in the fridge at the grocery store, to being frozen again in the freezer at my home.

Is this true?

The food in question is

Larderfresh Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea Burger
Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Garlic & Onion Free

Larderfresh Roast Carrot, Kale & Chickpea Burger
Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Garlic & Onion Free

It contains no meat - the ingredients are pumpkin + chickpea + oil
and carrot + kale + chickpea + oil respectively.

After freezing it at home, I microwave and eat it within 7 days.
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I guess it should be ok... The cold chain works otherwise!
posted by ramonaflowers at 1:57 AM on August 3, 2016

You say "being in the fridge in the grocery store." Do you mean "freezer" as in: the food stays frozen all the time, or do you mean "fridge" as in: the food has been store-thawed and then kept cool?

If the first, you should be safe, unless your food partly thaws on your way home.
If the second, that's trickier as you have no idea how the store thawed the food.
Apparently (and contrary to what you normally hear) it's safe to re-freeze stuff, IF it has been thawed properly and isn't spoiled otherwise (obviously).
posted by Namlit at 2:04 AM on August 3, 2016

Response by poster: Namlit: the food arrives in the grocery store frozen solid.

They then put the frozen food onto refrigerated shelves (open supermarket style refrigerator) where the customer can come and purchase it.

While it is on the refrigerated shelves, it defrosts slowly (it is often not fully defrosted at time of purchase.)
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 2:11 AM on August 3, 2016

Safe, but the texture can be changed by the second freeze.
posted by kjs4 at 2:14 AM on August 3, 2016 [19 favorites]

I don't see why this should be a problem at all. IANA food scientist but I am a biochemist and I can't see what could possibly happen between freezer-fridge-freezer with these foods. There's no rice or spinach involved, which can be tricky (but only with reheating, which isn't even happening here) and the only thing that could happen is perhaps that the structure of the food changes or it dries out a bit.

(These burgers sound amazing, by the way.)
posted by easternblot at 4:27 AM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The store clerk may have confused or conflated this with refreezing foods that have been thawed in a room-temperature environment, which is considerably less safe. Freezer-fridge-freezer is totally fine as long as it doesn't sit in the fridge long enough to go bad (i.e. days to weeks).
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:31 AM on August 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Though remember things don't freeze instantly if you stick them in the freezer. It might take the better part of a day. So that still counts as "fridge time" where it's going to be going bad a lot faster than if frozen. So if it's something that doesn't last too many days - like chicken, you probably don't want to repeatedly thaw-refreeze or it will have spent too much time unfrozen.
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:06 AM on August 3, 2016

Since you are meat free and it's not at a full defrost, you should be fine.
posted by myselfasme at 6:05 AM on August 3, 2016

The page on refreezing indicates that just about anything can be refrozen if it's not gone above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours and that vegetables have about a 6 hour safety zone. That site tends to be overly conservative, so as long as your trust the consistency of your grocer's refrigeration, you should be fine.
posted by Candleman at 7:42 AM on August 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I do agree with everyone else. The reason why this is slightly dodgy is that the products with gradually spoil in the fridge, so by the time you get them home and freeze them, you don't know whether you have something that has several days at fridge temperature before spoiling, or one day. You should be fine as long as you defrost again safely (i.e., in the fridge) and cook and eat promptly.
posted by kadia_a at 8:37 AM on August 3, 2016

While there may not be a safety issue, there is the potential for a grossness issue. Modern industrial freezing is done very quickly, maintaining the integrity of the foodstuff. Home refreezing is slow, which allows for ice crystal formations that can puncture the food's cell walls (animal or vegetable). And so your food can lose texture and get mushy. I don't know how much impact that would have on your ingredients.
posted by rtimmel at 2:50 PM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agreed that it's more of a texture issue than a safety one. What about putting in a request for the store to offer these items from their freezer case? Or (maybe only if you'd buy by the case?) setting aside one in back for you to pick up frozen?
posted by daisyace at 5:14 AM on August 4, 2016

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