We all know that food safety is an important aspect of our food preparation. Understanding how food should be stored, knowing when it is no longer good to eat and how to avoid cross-contamination are skills that many of us utilise in our daily lives. While all of these are incredibly important, you may not be consciously thinking about the food in your freezer. Food safety in regards to frozen food is just as important as the food in your fridge. If you’re wondering how long can you store frozen food for, we can help you out.
Why should food only be stored for so long?
Freezing food is a great convenience of modern technology as it allows us to keep our food for much longer than we would be able to otherwise. Not only does this help to reduce food waste, but it allows us to stock up on food and be confident that it is still going to be good when we take it out in a few weeks or months’ time. However, it goes without saying that while we can certainly extend the length of time that we can keep and store certain foods, it is not possible to freeze food indefinitely. After a certain amount of time freezer burn begins to set in and the quality of the food begins to deteriorate. Due to this, it’s important to not keep food in our freezer for too long or we risk food safety issues. This can lead to situations such as cross-contamination or bacteria entering food which can cause foodborne illnesses when consumed later.
How long can you store certain food groups for?
Knowing just how long you can safely store food in the freezer is key to practising great food safety and keeping you and your family safe from bad food. Take a look at the following suggestions:
- Cooked meat – cooked meat can be stored for 1-4 months, depending on what type of meat it is. Always ensure it is fully cooked down before sealing it and putting it into the freezer
- Raw meat – raw meat can safely be stored for 1-6 months, depending on what kind of meat it is. Chicken and turkey can be stored up to 1 year.
- Bread – bread and baking products will be safe in the freezer for 1-6 months and will still be delicious once defrosted.
- Seafood – seafood is able to be stored in your freezer for approximately 2-6 months, with lobster sometimes lasting up to a year if stored and sealed properly. Try to avoid having air in the bag when you deal and freeze your seafood as this will help it last longer.
- Fruit and vegetables – fruit and vegetables last well in the freezer and have a decent freezer length of 3-12 months. You can comfortably store away your excess summer fruit to enjoy during the cooler months.
- Cooked meals – cooked meals such as casseroles or pasta can safely be stored for 1-6 months before they will need to be thrown away. If you like to meal prep your food to make your weekdays easier then you can be confident that your food will remain safe to consume.
Always develop good freezing habits
To ensure that your food is being swiftly and safely frozen you should always be sure to practice the following:
- Ensure your freezer is working properly and freezing your food solid. The optimum temperature is -18 degrees
- Never store away foods that are still warm to the touch. Always make sure they are completely cold before placing them into the freezer
- Always make sure your food items are properly packaged and sealed – if possible get some airtight bags or freezer bags for your food as this will help it all last longer and stay safe from cross-contamination.
- Never overload your freezer – it may be tempting to try to fit in as much food as possible, but if your freezer does not have adequate airflow between the items it will not be able to freeze them properly. This can lead to items that are not properly frozen in the middle which can cause any number of health issues and food safety issues.
Get in touch with our team today
If you are looking for more information on food safety, safe food handling or general tips on how to keep your food free from contamination, you have come to the right place, take a look at our blog (https://www.aia.edu.au/learn/) here. Alternatively, if you are looking for food safety courses (https://www.aia.edu.au/), we can assist you. Get in touch (https://www.aia.edu.au/contact-us/) with our team today and ask us about our food safety certifications.