Freezing is an excellent way of keeping potentially hazardous foods for long periods. Food Safety Supervisors understand that there is a danger if frozen food is thawed to above 5°C, and then refrozen.
This is because bacteria will have multiplied when the food is thawed and then will also be frozen. If frozen food begins to thaw, it should be used straight away, and never re-frozen.
Frozen food hazards
- frozen food that is stored for long periods of time can deteriorate, compromising the suitability of the food;
- if the temperature rises, frozen food may start to thaw and allow bacteria to multiply;
- foreign matter, chemicals or pests can contaminate food if not properly covered or protected;
- storing food on the floor can make it more difficult to keep clean and contamination may occur.
Controls and monitoring of frozen food
- frozen food needs to be stored frozen hard (not partially thawed), to stop bacteria from multiplying;
- make sure food is stored and covered in clean containers. It should be clearly labelled and dated to allow for stock rotation;
- don’t overcrowd frozen storage areas as air will not be able to circulate and keep food cold;
- make sure that packaging isn’t damaged;
- never store food on the floor of a freezer room it can make it difficult to clean and contamination may occur. It is also not conducive to good air flow around goods;
- keep freezers clean;
- check the food in your freezer regularly (eg. weekly) to see if food is contaminated, damaged,
- deteriorated or perished.
Frozen food: corrective actions
- have the freezer serviced if it can’t keep food frozen hard;
- if the freezer stops working and food partly thaws, place the food in the refrigerator until it is completely thawed, then use as a refrigerated food;
- if food is completely thawed, but is colder than 5°C, place food in the refrigerator and use as a refrigerated food, or use straight away;
- if you’re not sure how long the freezer hasn’t been working properly, or you are unsure about the safety of any food, throw the food away;
- throw away contaminated, damaged, deteriorated or perished food.
Food Safety Supervisors need to manage the safe storage of frozen food.