How to chill, freeze and defrost food safely.
Chilling food properly helps stop harmful bacteria from growing.
To keep your food safe:
store any food with a ‘use by’ date, along with cooked dishes, salads and dairy products, in your fridge
keep chilled food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible during preparation.
cool cooked food quickly at room temperature and then place in the fridge within one to two hours
please follow the storage instructions on packaging, including the best before and use-by dates.
You need to check that your fridge is cold enough using a fridge thermometer. This is because the dials on fridges don’t always show you the right temperature. Your fridge should be 5°C or below.
Don’t overfill your fridge. Leaving space allows air to circulate and maintains the set temperature.
If your fridge is looking full, take out items that don’t need to be chilled, such as beer. This will make room for the items that do need to be chilled for safety reasons, such as raw, ready-to-eat and cooked food.
Freezing your food
A freezer acts as a pause button – food in a freezer won’t deteriorate and most bacteria cannot grow in it. You can freeze pre-packaged food right up to the ‘use by’ date. Leftovers goods should be frozen as soon as possible. Make sure any warm dishes are cooled before putting them in your freezer.
To stop the cold air in your freezer from drying out your food you can:
place food in an air-tight container
wrap it well in freezer bags or freezer wrap
It doesn’t matter if you cook your meat from frozen or fresh, you can use your leftovers to make a new meal. This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once.
Defrosting your food
When you take your food out of the freezer, it’s important to defrost it safely before cooking or eating it.
Don’t defrost food at room temperature. Ideally, food should be defrosted fully in the fridge. If this isn’t possible, use a microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking.
Make sure your food is fully defrosted before cooking. Partially defrosted food may not cook evenly, meaning that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process. Once food has been defrosted, eat it within 24 hours.