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When in Doubt, Throw It Out

When in Doubt, Throw It Out

With salmonella-infested tomato scares and raw milk concerns hitting the news lately, one can only wonder about the safety of other foods. The worries are heightened when it comes to the proper storage of fish or meat, two items that have been known to be problematic when improperly cooked, frozen or refrigerated.

The question is, how much can you stretch the rules of storing and cooking meat at home? And is it dangerous to eat fish or meat that has been frozen, cooked, refrozen, and then cooked again?

Food scientists say it's all in the details of how you handle your food. For example, if you leave meat or fish in a warm dish on a stove overnight, there's a good chance that a bacterium will contaminate it, though you may not see or smell anything out of the ordinary. However, if the food is refrozen quickly without leaving it out in warm, moist areas for too long, then re-cooking and eating it is not technically dangerous. The one thing to keep in mind is that the food, while safe, may change in texture after all these temperature changes.

The verdict: If you cook, freeze, then cook meat quickly, there's generally not going to be a problem. If you are questioning the quality of meat or fish, then you probably already know that there's something "fishy" about the way you've treated it. Repeat after us: when in doubt, throw it out. [The New York Times]

Posted: 6/18/08