When the Freezer Stops Working


When the Freezer Stops Working, REMEMBER:

  1. Keep the door shut and cover the freezer with blankets for insulation.

  2. Use dry ice to keep the foods cold.

  3. Handle thawed foods with care.  Discard any that are in poor condition

How long foods will stay frozen depends on four factors:

  1. The amount of food in the freezer.  A fully loaded freezer will stay cold longer than one that is partially full.

  2. The type of frozen food.  A freezer full of meats will stay frozen longer than one packed with fruits, vegetables, or baked goods.

  3. The temperature of the food.  The colder you run your freezer, the colder the food;  the colder the food, the longer it will stay frozen.

  4. The insulating ability of the freezer.  A well insulated freezer will keep food frozen longer than one with little insulation.

Use your senses to determine whether a food can safely be refrozen.  Examine the food closely.  Are the contents:

  • thawed and at room temperature?

  • thawed but at refrigerator temperature?

  • Partially frozen?

  • frozen solid?

Does the food have:

  • an off odor?

  • a color change?

  • apparent mold or bacteria growing on the surface?

In many cases, foods which are still partially frozen or have thawed but are still cold to the touch can safely be refrozen.  Eating quality may be slightly affected.  Use the chart below as your guide to safe food handling.  Mark those packages which have thawed and been refrozen and use them as soon as possible.

Refreeze Foods Quickly

If you have a great deal of food to refreeze, have a commercial food locker plant freeze it.  This method will ensure that foods are refrozen quickly and solidly for minimal loss of quality.

To refreeze small amounts of food at home, set the freezer temperature control to its coldest setting.  This temperature will refreeze thawed foods quickly and prevent quality loss.  Arrange foods so that cold air can circulate freely around them.  When all foods are solidly frozen, return the temperature setting to normal.  Use refrozen foods as soon as possible.

Use the following chart as your guide to safe food handling:

Meats (other than ground) Examine the meat carefully.  Color changes or off-odors may mean spoilage.  Refreeze only mackages that still contain ice crystals or are cold to the touch.  Repackage meats in moisture-vapor proof wrap before refreezing.  Discard any meat that is at room temperature.
Ground Meats Ground meats are particularly susceptible to spoilage due to the large amount of surface area.  Immediately refreeze only those packages that are still solidly frozen.  If packages are thawed but still cold to the touch, immediately cook the meat or cook and refreeze.  Discard ground meat that is thawed to room temperature.  Discard ground meat (frozen or thawed) that shows signs of spoilage (such as off colors or bad odors).
Cure Meats Safely refreeze cured meats that are still cold to the touch.  Discard any packages that show signs of spoilage.
Poultry To be safely refrozen, poultry must be partially frozen and still contain ice crystals.  If poultry is thawed but still cold to the touch, cook and consume immediately, or cook and refreeze.  Repackage poultry in moisture-vapor proof wrap before refreezing.  Discard poultry that is thawed to room temperature.  If thawed poultry drippings have contaminated other foods, handle these foods as you would thawed poultry.
Fish Do not refreeze fish unless it is still solidly frozen.  If thawed fish is still cold to the touch, cook and consume immediately.  Discard fish that has thawed to room temperature.
Fruits Refreeze thawed fruits that smell and taste good.  Thawed fruits may be used in cooking or making jams, jellies, and preserves.
Vegetables Refreeze vegetables that contain ice crystals.  If completely thawed but in good condition, cook vegetables and consume or cook and refreeze. 
Baked Goods Do not refreeze thawed backed goods, since the quality of the product will be poor.  If the product is only partially thawed and still contains ice crystals, it may safely be refrozen even though the quality may suffer.  Store thawed baked goods in the refrigerator to keep them fresh until they are consumed.  Use within a few days.
Frozen Prepared Foods Refreeze frozen prepared food only if ice crystals are still present.  If foods are completely thawed but still in good condition, cook and consume immediately.  Discard prepared foods that are in poor condition.
Frozen Fruit Juices Shake the can.  If the contents are totally thawed, reconstitute the juice and use. If the juice pulp is still frozen, refreeze.
Ice Cream Do not refreeze thawed ice cream.
Cheese Do not refreeze thawed cheese since the eating quality will be poor.  Refrigerate the cheese and use as soon as possible.