FROZEN MEAT THAW
Is your meat good or bad?
Foods should never be thawed on the counter,
or defrosted in hot water. Thawing should be
done in refrigerator, in cold water or use a
microwave oven to defrost it.
Good meats like steak have very little odor. Smell the meat. It should not have a thin slimy coat and color should be rich and natural (not dark,) it should be firm to the touch and not soft mushy. If it has been thawed on a counter do not use it. If it was properly thawed in a refrigerator at 38-40 degreesF it will be safe to use the same day or within 48 hours after thawed (poultry 24 hours.) If you are using unfrozen fresh meat and it has been properly refrigerated the meat packing will have a "use by" date on it.
*Read on as there will be changes accordingly to how you thaw frozen meat.
Food left above 40 °F (un-refrigerated) is not a safe temperature.
Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food is in the "Danger Zone," between 40 and 140 °F – at temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly.
When defrosting frozen foods, it's best to plan ahead and thaw food in the refrigerator where food will remain at a safe, constant temperature – 40 °F or below.
There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.
Planning ahead is the key to this method because of the lengthy time involved. A large frozen item like a turkey requires at least a day (24 hours) for every 5 pounds of weight. Even small amounts of frozen food -- such as a pound of ground meat or boneless chicken breasts -- require a full day to thaw. When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are several variables to take into account.
Cold Water Thawing
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention. The food must be in a leak-proof package or plastic bag. If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Also, meat tissue can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.
The bag should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Small packages of meat or poultry – about a pound – may defrost in an hour or less. A 3- to 4-pound package may take 2 to 3 hours. For whole turkeys, estimate about 30 minutes per pound. If thawed completely, the food must be cooked immediately. Foods thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before re-freezing.
When microwave defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwave defrosting. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed and, indeed, may have reached optimal temperatures for bacteria to grow.
Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before re-freezing.
Cooking Without Thawing
When there is not enough time to thaw frozen foods, or you're simply in a hurry, just remember: it is safe to cook foods from the frozen state. The cooking will take approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
From United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service.