So I had a 4-5 lb chunk of chuck roast sitting in the freezer for a few weeks, it was obviously frozen solid at that point. I wanted to eventually make some roast in the slow cooker but I figured I would need to thaw it in the fridge of course.

However it takes more than 1 day to "thaw" such a big piece of meat. At what point am I starting the "Fridge Clock" when thawing? Food safety guidelines talk about total time that food can spend at different temperatures and different storage methods, but when does my roast stop being "frozen" and when does it start being "refrigerated"?

I wanted to make it tomorrow because it's pretty much mostly thawed but still a little frozen in the middle. Is it safe to wait another day? (It's been in the fridge maybe 2-3 days by now, but was hard as a rock the first few days.)

  • @Mercfh I made some edits, which I think differentiates your question from this existing question, to make it more specific to what you are looking for. Feel free to roll back my edits if they do not help identify your exact question.
    – AMtwo
    Sep 22 at 20:19

When you have food transitioning between various temperature zones -- either frozen to fridge, or through the "danger zone" from hot to cold -- you always consider for the worst case scenario.

If thawing a roast, it is considered "refrigerated" the moment the surface starts to thaw & is no longer frozen, even if the middle part is still frozen. Similarly, when freezing something that was in the fridge, it isn't considered "frozen" until the entire item is frozen through.

With food passing from hot to cold through the 40°-140°F "danger zone", the food item is considered to be in that zone from the moment the first bit drops below 140°F until the entire dish is fully below 40°F.

For things that can be molded into shapes, it is usually ideal to have wide flat containers to help food pass quickly across these temperature zones, rather than thick, squat containers. (A shallow sheet pan is better than a cube.) For roasts & things that cannot be molded into a shape that warms/cools faster, you just have to be patient and recognize that the longer transition time to thaw completely is part of the "storage math" that food safety regulators consider.

  • I guess does that mean it's still safe though? If the middle is frozen but the outside isn't? (Since it takes a couple of days for the "whole thing" to thaw). Then again I guess people thaw thanksgiving turkeys weeks ahead of time.
    – Mercfh
    Sep 23 at 13:05

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