(Adapted from the USDA website on safe food handling: Here)
Uh, oh! You just got home and forgot to thaw something for your four-legged family members’ dinner. You grab a package of JFFD Beef and Russet Potato or JFFD Chicken and White Rice and use hot water to thaw it fast. But is this the best method? What if you remembered to take food out of the freezer, but forgot and left the package on the counter all day while you were at work? Has this happened with your own frozen foods?
Neither of these situations is ideal methods of defrosting frozen food, whether for humans or for our pets, as they may lead to foodborne illness. According to the USDA cooked meat, poultry or egg products, as any perishable foods, must be kept at a safe temperature during “the big thaw.” JFFD frozen recipes are safe for up to one year while frozen. However, as soon as they begin to thaw and become warmer than 40 °F, they must be served within hours or bacteria can start to multiply.
Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Even though the center of the package may still be frozen as it thaws on the counter, the outer layer of the food could be in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 and 140 °F — temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly. This is especially true in the warmer months of the year.
When thawing any frozen food, including your Pets’ favorite JFFD healthy dog food recipes, it’s best to plan ahead and thaw slowly overnight in the refrigerator where it will remain at a safe, constant temperature — at 40 °F or below.
How to Thaw Frozen Food
There are three safe ways to thaw frozen cooked meals for dogs: 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 72-ounce package of JFFD Turkey and Whole Wheat Macaroni requires at least a day and may take up to two days to thaw. A general estimate for frozen foods thawed in the refrigerator is 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight. Our smaller packages (7 and 18 ounces) should thaw easily overnight.
Only food thawed in the refrigerator can be safely refrozen. This is the only safe method of thawing if you plan on breaking up a large 72-ounce package and refreezing portions for your smaller pets.
Cold Water Thawing
This method is faster than refrigerator thawing but food defrosted in this method cannot be refrozen. Make sure there are no punctures or leaks in the package of any food defrosted in this method as water could be introduced to the food.
The sealed package should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 15-30 minutes so it continues to thaw. Small 7 and 18-ounce packages of JFFD recipes may thaw in an hour or less. A 72-ounce package may take 3 to 5 hours.
Cooked foods thawed by the cold-water method should not be refrozen.
When thawing food in a microwave, always remove the food from the plastic packaging. Using your microwave’s defrost setting, defrost 8-10 minutes per lb of food.
Cooked foods thawed in the microwave should never be refrozen.
Also, never thaw foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher, or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors, or on the porch. These methods can leave you and your Pet’s foods unsafe to eat.
Blog post written by:
Dr. Oscar E Chavez BVetMed MRCVS MBA
Chief Medical Officer