SINGAPORE - Do I refreeze or not refreeze raw food?
I pondered over this question when I was faced with a packet of frozen pork mince in too large a quantity to consume in one sitting.
I really should have cooked the whole lot before freezing the cooked dish.
But I did want to leave the meat uncooked.
So I did. Well, refreezing raw food need not necessarily be dangerous but there are some risks.
One risk is that raw food can go bad before it is refrozen or before being cooked and refrozen.
This is because freezing food does not kill bacteria - bacteria continues to grow at the same rate as it does before the food is frozen.
The quality of the food is also affected by refreezing, because the cells, already slightly damaged by the first round of freezing, are expanded again with ice crystals in the second round.
Generally, you should throw away any food that has been stored outside the refrigerator in temperatures that went above 4 deg C.
This means you should never keep food that has been left outside the refrigerator in Singapore.
You can keep it only if it was at least stored in the chiller or vegetable section of the refrigerator.
And obviously junk the food if there is a smell or if you have any doubts about it at all.
To be safe, you should cook raw meat that is completely thawed, without ice crystals, but is still cold, before freezing the cooked dish.
But I find that if you have a chunk of beef, for example, it can be refrozen even if it does have ice crystals, provided it has been kept below 4 deg C the whole time and has been thawed for only a day or two.
As for raw poultry, pork or lamb, refreezing them is fine if they are still icy or very cold.
If not, cook them before refreezing.
I would never refreeze raw fish or shellfish, though I have pried out a few prawns from a pile of frozen ones (like you do slices of frozen bread).
It is too hard to tell if the fish or shellfish is starting to go bad.
As for ice cream, if it is soft but has not turned into liquid, refreeze it.
Otherwise, throw it away. It is a dairy product and it spoils fast.
Bread and cakes are fine - they are dry and do not change much in the freezer.
Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.