We were on vacation for a week. The neighbor said we were out of power the whole time. We have a chest freezer full of beef. It thawed but remained in the freezer unopened the whole time. Is the meat bad if it is thawed but still cold? Can we refreeze it and eat it?


2 Answers 2


You may be able to salvage some or all of it if the meat was still cold enough to contain ice crystals, otherwise I'm afraid it's a total loss. There is a guide here.

If you do have to discard it, check with your homeowner's insurance company. They might cover the loss.

  • 1
    Thanks. No ice crystals kust cold to touch. Guess I'll be calling insurance co. Thank you
    – lynette
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 15:49

The common rule of thumb is 48hrs for a full fridge or freezer before it's a loss. (this of course changes depending on the temperature at the time; less filled fridges spoil faster than full fridges)

Odds are, the items in the fridge are a loss unless it's something that didn't really need to be refrigerated.

For the freezer, if there are items that are still below 40°F / 4°C, they're still within safe fridge temperatures. You don't want to attempt to re-freeze, but you can still safely cook it and either re-freeze or consume it.

This is one of those times when infrared thermometers comes in handy -- but you need to test just as the power comes back on, or you won't get an accurate measure of what temperature they got up to. With a chest freezer, there's a good chance that the items at the bottom are going to be colder than the stuff on top, so even if the stuff on top has thawed (assuming it hasn't leaked all over the place), the stuff at the bottom may still be okay.

From the phrasing of the question, you have considerable amounts of meat. I'd aim for cooking the meat in ways that you can refreeze it but portion it to use it in multiple ways so you don't get tired of it.

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