Could what I don't know, kill me?
February 14, 2006 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Frozen food fiasco filter. My freezer was off for 48 hours. It was not opened during this time. Which items are still safe?

Items in question, all store-packaged still: bacon, ground turkey, ground lamb, boneless chicken breasts. Also some home-made lasagne (meat and cheese), frozen after it was cooked. Everything's still cold, but nothing is icy anymore.

I've found information online about some of this, but want to know if anyone here has had personal experience and survived (or made themselves ill). Can I salvage any of my food? How about my pride?
posted by Framer to Food & Drink (19 answers total)
I would say none of that would be salvagable. If it gets to above 2 degrees C (don't ask me what that is in F) it can't be refrozen. Your only hope may be to cook the lasagne and eat it now - provided it's still really cold.

What happened to your freezer? Did it break down? Power outage? It's possible home insurance might pay for the lost food, depending on the circumstances.
posted by Jimbob at 4:33 PM on February 14, 2006

48 hours? I'd definitely toss it all.
posted by meerkatty at 4:35 PM on February 14, 2006

Which items are still safe? Possibly all of them. When you say "everything's still cold," how cold are they? Refrigerator cold? Or just kinda chilly? If they never got over 40 degrees in 48 hours, they're pretty safe. If they did, then toss all the meats and meat dishes out, certainly.
posted by frogan at 4:35 PM on February 14, 2006

Well, how long can you keep bacon or chicken in the fridge? I've kept meat in the fridge after being in the freezer for over 48 hours and didn't die or get sick after eating it.
posted by delmoi at 4:40 PM on February 14, 2006

Well, how long can you keep bacon or chicken in the fridge?

Well, I'd say, in this circumstance, you might have another 24 hours left for this meat in the fridge. I'd never touch meat that's been in the fridge for more than 3 days, especially chicken or bacon. All this is assuming that the meat has never, at any point, gone above 2-3 degrees C.

Now I admit the first answer I gave was biased by my location. My freezer also recently broke down and I didn't discover it for 48 hours. But this is in the Australian summer, so everything in that freezer was well and truly gone - in fact, it was warm inside the freezer when I opened it. However, if the meat in Framer's case was still cold, then yeah, there might be another 24 hours of fridge time left. However, you've really got to be certain that it didn't get warmer than 2-3 degrees C at any time in that past 48 hours. Personally, I wouldn't risk it.
posted by Jimbob at 4:46 PM on February 14, 2006

If the freezer was still refrigerator-level cold, I'd say the bacon's probably just fine. I've left bacon in the fridge, opened (but resealed with clingfilm), for a week and suffered no ill effects.

/not a doctor, nutritionist, biologist, or chiropractor.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:06 PM on February 14, 2006

Was your house warm, or did you lose power from the snowstorm? If the house was cold, I'll put in a vote for it all being probably fine. Cook the meat thoroughly -- no rare burgers with this batch, just in case.
posted by desuetude at 5:26 PM on February 14, 2006

Bacon's meant to last longer than 3 days, no? It's smoked and salted.
posted by zadcat at 6:04 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: Freezer's in the basement. Food was still refrigerator cold when I found it. Still, I'm leaning towards chucking the chuck......
posted by Framer at 7:03 PM on February 14, 2006

Amazing. You could've left it alone for 24 more hours, and you would still've been fine. I knew I had heard a similar figure before (and my family had obeyed it before), but I had to Google to find a citation.

This is assuming the freezer was kept shut. You didn't open it to have a poke around too frequently, did you?
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:45 PM on February 14, 2006

Also, it was written by the USDA in 1992. I'm guessing that's an okay source in this situation, and I figure freezers can only have gotten better at cooling and airtightness in 14 years.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:46 PM on February 14, 2006

What zadcat said. I thought bacon was indestructible. mm, bacon.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:40 PM on February 14, 2006

The bacon could last as much as another two weeks at refrigerator temperature, depending. I would cook the rest of the thawed food within 24 hours and then freeze the cooked food again -- that which you can't eat within a few days.

IMHO, you don't have anything to worry about.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:56 PM on February 14, 2006

My understanding is that you can't refreeze any of this stuff safely unless you cook it first.
posted by b33j at 12:11 AM on February 15, 2006

Here's Martha Stewart recipe for meatloaf wrapped in bacon. I'd suggest you go to some recipe websites and look for dishes that can combine your thawed ingredients, cook it up and the re-freeze. But do the cooking immediately.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:32 AM on February 15, 2006

Ack. I hate when I link to a page that contains the wrong info. Here the real recipe for bacon wrapped meatloaf.
posted by Sara Anne at 7:40 AM on February 15, 2006

Another vote for "you don't have anything to worry about."

People shouldn't be so paranoid about food safety. If it smells fine, and you're going to cook it all the way through, you've got a snowball's chance in hell of injuring yourself, no matter what sort of freeze-thaw cycles it's been through.

The bacon you buy at the store has been so thoroughly preserved with salt and nitrates/nitrites, you could probably leave it at room temperature for a few days before it showed signs of being inedible.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:52 AM on February 15, 2006

NEVER refreeze meat after it has been defrosted. It's just not safe.
posted by ebeeb at 2:56 PM on February 15, 2006

It's already been said, but I think you'll be perfectly fine if you cook it and eat it now, or cook it and freeze it again - but don't just refreeze it as is.
posted by The Monkey at 11:00 PM on February 15, 2006

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