Are you defrosting your food properly?

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How do you defrost meat from your freezer? Do you put t in the fridge and let it thaw, leave it out on the side, or even pop in the microwave to get it done quicker?

Well, we’ve got news for you – if it’s the latter two, you should probably change your defrosting ways.

According to Professor Costas Stathopoulos from Abertay University, you should ALWAYS defrost food in the fridge before cooking and eating it.

‘Defrosting in the microwave isn’t a good idea,’ he reveals. ‘It’s always best to follow the instructions on the pack.’

Speaking to Cherry Healey on BBC Two’s Inside the Factory, the professor showed viewers just how much bacteria grew when meat was left to defrost in warmer temperatures.

Freezing preserves food by keeping the levels of bacteria in check, but when they’re being thawed bacteria begins to quickly multiply. Thawing at colder temperatures actually slows down bacterial growth, reducing our risk of falling ill.

‘The best and safest method to defrost meat is slowly in the fridge over a number of hours – as per our guidelines,’ agrees Good Housekeeping’s Acting Cookery Director, Lucy Jessop.


‘However, if you are short of time, the microwave is a perfectly acceptable way to defrost meat – but the manufacturer’s guidelines must be followed closely (using the correct defrost settings), as well as the instructions on the back of the food packaging.’

‘All defrosted meat should be thoroughly cooked through before eating.’

If you’re wanting to defrost in the microwave, the Good Housekeeping Institute says to use the defrost setting or 50% setting to ensure that food doesn’t cook on the outside during defrosting.

‘At intervals, break up or stir food as it’s defrosting,’ they recommend. ‘You have to cook the food as soon as it’s defrosted in the microwave.’

It’s also important to remember that once frozen meat has been defrosted, you cannot then refreeze this.

‘Refreezing isn’t a good idea,’ Professor Stathopoulos says, as he showed viewers petri dishes containing a startling amount of bacteria on re-frozen food.

But did you know, you can actually cook some things straight from frozen? Frozen veg, baguettes, fish fillets and even chicken pieces can all be cooked straight from frozen!
Here are some other key pieces of freezing and defrosting advice:

  • Make sure food is completely cold before freezing
  • Try and plan ahead so that you can avoid needing to defrost something quickly
  • While you should never refreeze defrosted raw fish or meat, you can refreeze it once it has been cooked
  • Always place raw meat or fish on a plate or tray to defrost at the bottom of the fridge, to catch the juices.
  • Make sure food is thoroughly reheated and piping hot before serving


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