Ok, the simplest answer is…Yes, you can!
It’s been a huge misconception among misinformed people that you can’t refreeze raw meat after you have thawed it once. I can’t tell you how many times I get this question or I hear someone mention it in our store. Therefore, no need to be alarmed you are not going to die from refreezing that meat you didn’t have time to cook. AND HERE COMES THE BIG-
BUT…that being said you need to look deeper into this argument to really understand where it comes from and how it even got started.
Why do people think you can’t refreeze meat/ what is their argument?
1.) The idea is that when you thaw meat, bacteria starts to grow, then if you freeze it again, it will have even more bacteria when it thaws the 2nd time.
Now, this could be a valid argument if you let whatever you are thawing set out for a couple days then try to refreeze it while it’s starting to turn green… -_- but if you PROPERLY thaw meat you can surely refreeze it without this being an issue.
How do you NOT properly thaw meat?
1.) If you let meat thaw on the counter or somewhere that it can reach temperatures between 40-140 degrees F that is considered NOT PROPER. This is because temperatures in this range are considered the “Danger Zone”- where bacteria grows/ multiplies rapidly. Keep in mind that if you are planning to fully cook whatever you have thawed the cooking process will kill these bacteria and it’s still fine to eat but refreezing is where the issue is raised.
How do you properly thaw meat in a way that is re-freezable?
1.) Thawing food is best planned ahead and somewhere that the temperature is constant (40 degrees F or below) – hey that sounds like a refrigerator! Yes…best method refrigerator thawing- Ground meat, stew meat, poultry, seafood, should stay good for about 2 days, while red meat cuts(such as beef, pork or lamb roasts, chops and steaks) 3 to 5 days after thawing.
Now there is other ways to thaw food properly such as cold water thawing, microwave thawing, or cooking without thawing but these methods should be fully cooked before re-freezing.
Lastly…fresh is best so back and forth between the freezer and refrigerator may cause some lack of quality but remember nothing deadly…
And if you are still skeptical...nature gave you a nose for a reason- use it!
If you have questions or concerns feel free to contact me or refer to the USDA website: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/the-big-thaw-safe-defrosting-methods-for-consumers/ct_index