When the Freezer Stops Working

When the freezer stops working, remember the following:

  • Keep the door shut and cover the freezer with blankets for insulation.
  • Use dry ice to keep the foods cold.
  • Handle thawed foods with care. Discard any that are in poor condition.

How Long Foods Will Stay Frozen

How long foods will stay frozen depends on four factors:

  • The amount of food in the freezer. A fully loaded freezer will stay cold longer than one that is partially full.
  • The type of frozen food. A freezer full of meats will stay frozen longer than one packed with fruits, vegetables, or baked goods.
  • 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.
  • The insulating ability of the freezer. A well insulated freezer will keep food frozen longer than one with little insulation.

Refreezing Food

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.