If news of salmonella-infested tomatoes and raw milk concerns don’t have you biting your nails over food safety, then, girl, we don’t know what will! Because the truth is, many of us have begun to grow a bit queasy over the foods we are preparing for our daily meals.
And the worries are heightened when it comes to the proper storage of fish or meat, two items that have been known to be problematic when improperly cooked, frozen or refrigerated.But health experts say there are a few steps you can take to better ensure your food’s safety as it travels along the trail from grocery store to refrigerator to pot or pan.
A few questions that seem to bug fish and meat consumers are, how much can you stretch the rules of storing and cooking meat at home? And is it dangerous to eat fish or meat that has been frozen, cooked, refrozen, and then cooked again?
Food scientists say it’s all in the details of how you handle your food. For example, if you leave meat or fish in a warm dish on a stove overnight, there’s a good chance that a bacterium will contaminate it, though you may not see or smell anything out of the ordinary. However, if the food is refrozen quickly without leaving it out in warm, moist areas for too long, then re-cooking and eating it is not technically dangerous. The one thing to keep in mind is that the food, while safe, may change in texture after all these temperature changes.
“If you unfreeze meat quickly, cook it quickly, then freeze it again quickly, there is no problem,” said Dr. Kathryn Boor, professor and chairwoman of the food science department at Cornell University, in an article for the New York Times. “It might get mushy in texture, but it is not dangerous. Fish is more likely than beef, for example, to have textural problems, because it is more fragile.”
The verdict: If you are questioning the quality of meat or fish, then you probably already know that there’s something “fishy” about the way you’ve treated it. Say it with us, altogether now, “When in doubt, throw it out!”