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Thawing the frozen safely


Special to Wesson News

Social distancing to protect yourself from COVID-19 probably means making fewer trips to the grocery store, cooking at home and using freezers -- also a safety concern.

Natasha Haynes, a family and consumer science agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says freezing meats and other items is a great way to keep a supply of perishable foods on hand. However, she reminds people to follow U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for safe thawing when it comes time to use the items.

“Don’t thaw meats and poultry on the counter or in hot water,” says Haynes, who is also host of The Food Factor, a digital platform she uses to share recipes, tips and other information about food and nutrition on the Extension for Real Life blog.

“Put these items in the refrigerator a day or two before you plan to use them,” she counsels. “If you need to thaw items more quickly, you can put them in a sealed plastic bag and submerge the bagged item in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to maintain a safe temperature. You can also use the microwave’s defrost feature. Be sure to cook the items immediately after thawing if you use the cold water or microwave method.”

Meats and poultry also can be cooked from a frozen state, but plan to cook them for about 50 percent longer than normal. Always use a meat thermometer to confirm the item has reached a safe temperature, Haynes says. UDSA guidelines on these temperatures can be found on the agency’s website at https://bit.ly/2QsEjtA.

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