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FAQs

Have you got all your frozen food facts straight?

 

What can you do if your freezer fails?

What can consumers do to keep frozen food as fresh as possible?

What do producers do to ensure your frozen foods are of high quality?

What is the storage life of thawed foods?

Can thawed foods be frozen again?

Is thawing before cooking necessary?

Is frozen food dangerous if stored for longer than the stipulated time?

How long can we keep frozen food for?

How does freezing preserve food?

Since frozen food is processed, is it full of preservatives?

Is freezing on the "fast freeze" setting on a domestic freezer equal to commercial freezing?

Is buying fresh ready meals and storing them in the freezer better than buying frozen ready meals?

Is frozen food as good for you as fresh?

 

 

What can you do if your freezer fails?

  • Don't Panic!
  • Keep the doors of the freezer shut.
  • Check that it is switched on at the mains.
  • Replace the fuse.
  • Check with friends and neighbours if they can store your frozen food.
  • Call a service engineer - if the engineer is likely to be prompt keep the freezer door closed. 

Depending on how full the freezer is, produce can remain frozen for 24 hours or more. The more full the freezer, the longer the contents will remain frozen. 

After the repairs have been made do the following:

If the frozen foods have defrosted, remove them from the freezer and check their temperature close to the surface of each item. If it is warmer than the temperature of a refrigerator (?°C) discard the products now and check your household insurance policy or any freezer warranty you have, you may be covered. Take this opportunity to thoroughly clean the surfaces according to the freezer manufacturers instructions.

Allow to dry with the door open and the freezer switched off, prior to restocking the freezer.

If foods have thawed but are still colder than 4°C store them at the bottom of a refrigerator and use within 24 hours. Once fully cooked many foods can be frozen to be used within one month. Foods intended to be consumed frozen (e.g. ice cream) should be discarded. If foods are still frozen and have not softened, turn the freezer to its maximum setting for 24 hours, before restoring to a setting which maintains a temperature of -18°C.

 

What can consumers do to keep frozen food as fresh as possible?

There are simple steps that consumers can take to ensure that frozen food is of as high a quality and nutritious value as possible. When shopping, always buy frozen foods at the end of a shopping run and pack them together in insulated bags or boxes (available from most retailers). Put in the freezer as soon as possible. 'Don't wait... Refrigerate'! At home, purchase a fridge thermometer, these are widely available from retailers. Check the temperature of your freezer. Is it operating at -18°C or below? If it is not, turn the refrigeration unit up if possible.

 

What do producers do to ensure your frozen foods are of high quality?

Even before they are frozen many producers take care to select vegetables that are of similar quality to those which are sold fresh. They also select varieties that freeze well. There are many strains of most common vegetables, they do not all freeze equally well. After selection and washing, vegetables are blanched in boiling water or over steam for a short time to disable natural enzymes that could otherwise cause the product to deteriorate during frozen storage.

This whole process of harvesting, washing and blanching is complete within a few hours. The vegetables are then frozen very rapidly in a freezing tunnel before being packaged. The package is not just there to contain the product. It also helps protect the food from dehydration during storage. Long-term storage of seasonal products is done in cold stores operating at -25°C and colder to ensure that the product retains its quality. Care is taken in the distribution chain to ensure that changes are kept to a minimum, the process being rather like a relay race with the baton of responsibility being passed on from producer to distributor to retailer. The temperature history is monitored and recorded to ensure that the baton has not been dropped.

 

What is the storage life of thawed foods?

Thawed foods should be treated as carefully as chilled foods, i.e. kept in the refrigerator. Care should be taken to ensure that juices released during and after thawing do not drip onto refrigerator surfaces. Therefore store thawed meats covered on a tray at the bottom of a fridge for no more than 24 hours unless manufacturers advise to the contrary.

 

Can thawed foods be frozen again?

Refreezing thawed foods is not advised from either a safety or quality point of view. Retail packed frozen foods must be labeled 'Do not refreeze after thawing'. The main reason is to avoid the risk that some consumers may use inappropriate thawing methods, e.g. thawing at room temperature for too long a time, or letting the thawed food get too warm before refreezing is started.

 

Is thawing before cooking necessary?

Always follow the manufacturers cooking guidelines. The purpose of thawing foods thoroughly before cooking is to ensure that during cooking the food is heated sufficiently to kill harmful bacteria. If the food is large (e.g. a whole chicken or beef joint) and not defrosted prior to cooking it will remain uncooked in the center whilst being burnt or overcooked on the surface. Many ready prepared foods can be safely cooked directly from the frozen state because the manufacturers have designed the cooking method to ensure that the food is properly cooked.

 

Is frozen food dangerous if stored for longer than the stipulated time?

No. Bacteria, some of which cause food poisoning, cannot grow at freezer temperatures so the storage life reflects the length of time the product is likely to remain in good condition. The products are usually labeled 'Best Before' rather than 'Use By'. Eventually, even well frozen food will deteriorate and become unpalatable whilst still remaining safe to eat.

 

How long can we keep frozen food for?

This depends upon the type of food and the storage temperature. Most foods obey the rule 'the colder the better'. On the packaging of a frozen food there is guidance stating how long the food can be stored using freezers of a given star rating.

 

How does freezing preserve food?

When frozen, many changes in food which lead to its spoiling are prevented or slowed down considerably. For example, bacteria and moulds cannot grow in the cold of the freezer. When food is frozen much of the water is 'locked up' as ice meaning that many other chemical changes in food are also slowed down.

 

Since frozen food is processed, is it full of preservatives?

Freezing is a natural form of preservation and does not usually require the use of any preservatives. On the rare occasions that they are used, they will be clearly listed on the ingredients panel

 

Is freezing on the "fast freeze" setting on a domestic freezer equal to commercial freezing?

With home freezing, even on a fast setting, it usually takes several hours to fully freeze food. Manufacturers are able to freeze food very rapidly, which gives a superior texture, taste and appearance.

 

Is buying fresh ready meals and storing them in the freezer better than buying frozen ready meals?

Freezing stops the clock on food deterioration, chilling does not. In the time it takes to buy a fresh ready meal and take it home to freeze it, the deterioration process will have already begun. A frozen meal will still be in perfect condition because it was frozen as soon as it was produced.

 

Is frozen food as good for you as fresh?

Frozen food is just as nutritious as fresh. Over time, frozen foods, especially those with a high percentage of sensitive vitamins, are nutritionally more reliable than fresh. Tests have shown that frozen broccoli, green beans, spinach and raspberries all contained more vitamin C than their fresh equivalents.

 
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