It’s Food Safety Week, which this year runs November 13-18.
How will you be spreading awareness? Personally, I’m planning to not double-dip my cracker for the entire week, a pleasant and much-desired change for my friends.
There are some obvious steps we can take toward making food safer – like not preparing meals in the bathroom or not using your dog bowl as a guacamole dish. The latter is also important because dogs are allergic to avocado and deserve to be a part of Food Safety Week too.
Although the above rules are fairly obvious (I hope) some others still cause a lot of confusion.
Today seems like the ideal opportunity to address the most often asked topic on the Australian Chicken Meat Federation's (ACMF) website: 'Is it safe to re-freeze chicken?' Before we continue, a quick shout out to ACMF for having a great website URL – www.chicken.org.au. They must have been clucking with delight when they snagged the main chicken domain.
The ACMF's Executive Director, Dr. Vivien Kite, corrects the record when it comes to re-freezing chicken.
"You can re-freeze chicken, yes."
What? The number of times I have defrosted chicken only to forget after two wines and order Uber Eats, and then have to throw out said chicken. Okay, it happened twice but that’s still a waste of $10 worth of chicken and brought on an amount of guilt I can’t put a price on.
Dr. Kite adds some important information, “Simply double-check that it was properly defrosted in the fridge in the first place and that it hasn't been more than 24 hours after you defrosted it."
According to new research from the Food Safety Information Council, 76 percent of Australians are mistaken about this fact, believing that it is unsafe to refreeze chicken that has been defrosted in the fridge.
The myth is particularly prevalent among older Australians, with 88 percent of those aged 65 and more believing the practice is dangerous, compared to 58 percent of those aged 18 to 24.
We are not sure why this is but perhaps it’s that young people know how to use Google search, you know, to double-check.
It is critical to defrost chicken meat in the fridge at temperatures below 5 degrees, and it is ideal to store defrosting meat on the lowest shelf in the fridge.
Dr Kite explains, “If you defrost your chicken meat on the kitchen bench, and then re-freeze it, you’ll be storing any bacteria that may have multiplied during thawing at room temperature, and these can start growing again next time you defrost it!”
This must be where most of the confusion stems from. Many of us defrost out of the fridge because remembering to get something out to defrost is the hardest step in any recipe.
My forgetfulness often leads to me needing to defrost out of the fridge – chicken on a plate at a safe distance from the heater, me staring at it from across the room, my grumbling stomach drowning out the clock ticking closer to dinner time. I do not believe I am alone in this sort of disorganastion.
Perhaps the most efficient way to keep up with food safety standards is to simply be an orderly person.
Feel free to use this rhyme I made up to help remember chicken re-freezing rules in the future:
Thawed in the fridge? You’re all good fella.
Thawed on the bench? Why hello salmonella.
For more chicken and food safety advice, visit the ACMF’s website. You know the one - www.chicken.org.au