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Freezing food at home

When freezing food at home always check the instructions on food labels or in your freezer’s handbook to see how long food should be frozen.

For safety, it's ok to freeze most raw or cooked foods providing you do the following:

  • freeze it before the 'use by' date
  • follow any freezing or thawing instructions on the label
  • thaw it in the fridge so it doesn't get too warm, or if you intend to cook it as soon as it's defrosted you could defrost it in a microwave
  • try to use it within one to two days after it’s been defrosted, it will go off in the same way as if it were fresh
  • cook food until it's piping hot all the way through
  • once food has been defrosted it should never be refrozen

When frozen meat and fish thaw, lots of liquid can come out of them. If you’re defrosting raw meat or fish, this liquid will spread bacteria to any food, plates or surfaces that it touches. Keep the meat and fish in a sealed container at the bottom of the fridge, so that it can't touch or drip onto other foods. 

When freezing leftover food, don’t put large amounts of warm or hot food directly into the freezer, first cut the food into smaller portions, allow the food to cool, cover it and put it in the freezer within two hours. 

Remember to use clean dishes and utensils for cooked food. Always clean plates, utensils, surfaces and hands thoroughly after they've touched raw or thawing meat to stop bacteria from spreading.

If you defrost raw meat or fish and then cook it thoroughly, you can freeze it again, but remember never reheat foods more than once. Keeping your freezer at or below -18°C will help maintain the quality of frozen foods. In order to make sure that the temperature inside your freezer doesn't get too warm, don’t put food in the freezer when it’s still hot. Remember to keep the freezer door closed and only open it when necessary.

You can read more information on the Safe food and Love Food Hate Waste websites.

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