startAbout UsFor ConsumersFor FoodserviceFor Educators

Explain four methods for properly thawing potentially hazardous food.

Freezing prevents microbial growth in foods. Freezing can kill some but not all microorganisms. Therefore, if a food was temperature-abused before freezing, it could be unsafe to eat after thawing, particularly if the food was improperly thawed.

Improper thawing provides an opportunity for surviving bacteria to grow to harmful numbers and possibly produce toxins. If the food is then refrozen, significant numbers of bacteria and all preformed toxins are preserved.

Potentially hazardous food must be thawed by one of four methods:

  1. under refrigeration that maintains the food temperature at 5°C (41°F) or below, or at 7°C (45°F) or below.
  2. completely submerged under running water that is at 70°F or colder. The food should not be at temperatures above 40°F for more than 4 hours
  3. as part of a cooking process if the food that is frozen is cooked to a proper endpoint cooking temperature or
  4. is thawed in a microwave oven and immediately transferred to conventional cooking equipment, with no interruption in the process.