Does meat stored in the freezer for many days cause cancer?


My family has a lot of leftover meat after Tet so we store it in the freezer, but some people say that eating meat left in the refrigerator for a long time can cause cancer. Is this true? (Hong, 34 years old, Hanoi)

Reply:

Many families have leftover pork stored in the freezer after Tet. There is a lot of information that meat stored in the refrigerator for a long time can produce toxins that cause cancer, which is incorrect. However, the longer meat is stored, the more nutrients it will lose, increasing the risk of producing toxins, which is harmful to health.

The maximum time to store meat in the freezer depends on many factors, including the type of meat and the temperature. Of these, temperature is the most important factor. If the temperature is too high, the meat will easily spoil because this is a favorable environment for bacteria to grow and develop. On the contrary, if the temperature is too low in the refrigerator, the meat will freeze, lose water, and even deteriorate.

In general, meat packaged for export will be stored in cold storage at very low temperatures, -50 degrees Celsius, and can be kept for 6 months. In a home refrigerator, the freezer is only about -12 to -18 degrees Celsius, and meat can be kept for up to a month. Therefore, if your family keeps meat in the refrigerator for a month, it can still be eaten when it is thawed.

However, if left in the refrigerator for too long, microorganisms will adapt, operate and develop slowly, thereby producing toxins, causing other diseases. In addition, any food, not just meat, left in the refrigerator for too long, its ingredients will change. Meat does not show signs of spoilage, and when cooked, it cannot be as delicious as when fresh. It is best to try to finish it as soon as possible, do not leave it for too long.


How to defrost food for safe use
My family has a habit of storing frozen food for later cooking. Doctor, how should we defrost it to ensure safety when using it? (Han, 30 years old, Ho Chi Minh City)

Reply:

Fresh food when left at room temperature easily creates conditions for bacteria to grow. In processing, the concept of "danger zone" is mentioned as the temperature range of 8-63 degrees Celsius. Frozen food does not kill bacteria, it only helps prevent them from growing. Therefore, the defrosting process easily creates conditions for bacteria to grow in this temperature range. With a large amount of food frozen for later use, we need to pay attention to the safe defrosting process. The

most commonly used method is to defrost in the refrigerator compartment. Food should be placed in the lowest compartment to avoid water dripping onto other foods.

In case of urgent defrosting, a microwave is a useful option. Before putting it in the oven, it is necessary to remove unsafe packaging such as polystyrene plastic trays, plastic food wrap or paper boxes.

To avoid contamination, place food in microwave-safe containers. To avoid leakage during defrosting, use containers with lids and vents. Heat will not penetrate the entire mass of food to be defrosted, so it is necessary to stir and rotate the mass of food.

Another popular method of defrosting is to use cold water. However, this method can easily put food in a dangerous temperature range (favorable for bacterial growth). When using this method, use a clean basin or sink and keep the entire mass of food submerged in water.

Food should be wrapped in waterproof, leak-proof packaging to avoid contamination. Thawing should be done in about 2 hours or less to avoid food reaching dangerous temperatures (8-63 degrees Celsius). Even food wrapped in waterproof packaging can still harbor bacteria on the surface of the sink. Therefore, the sink should be cleaned after thawing.

Defrosted food should be cooked within 24 hours; if it cannot be cooked immediately, it should be stored in the refrigerator.

For prepared dishes that need to be frozen for later use, the food should be divided into small portions for one meal. It is best to store in a glass container and defrost in the microwave when eating.


Should thawed meat be kept refrigerated?
Many people advise that thawed meat should not be refrozen because it can spoil. Can you advise on the correct way to preserve meat? (Hoa, 28 years old, Hanoi).

Reply:

Freezing is an effective way to maintain the nutritional value, quality and taste of many foods. While it is not harmful to thaw meat and then freeze it immediately, this situation puts the meat at risk of bacterial contamination and makes it less fresh and delicious than it was when it was first frozen. Thawing in hot water causes the meat to cook, lose nutrients and deteriorate.

How to defrost:

To ensure safety, meat should be thawed slowly by moving from the freezer to the refrigerator, helping to preserve it for 3-5 more days. It can be thawed naturally at room temperature , when not used up, the meat should be divided into small pieces and stored in vacuum bags.

Meat stored frozen in a sealed bag can be put directly into cold water to defrost, avoiding bacterial contamination. After defrosting, you need to cook it immediately to keep the meat fresh and delicious. Another way is to add salt and vinegar to the water , stir well to dissolve the solution completely, helping to defrost faster. This method takes time but ensures delicious, safe meat. If you do not use it all, put the meat in a new bag, then freeze it again.

Of the four methods above, slow defrosting by placing the meat in the refrigerator is the safest. However, be careful not to let the water in the meat bag leak out, and the unused portion should be immediately stored in the freezer. Do not store meat together or mixed with vegetables and other foods. Avoid putting meat in boiling water or hot oil, which will cause the product to lose nutrients.

The idea that storing meat in the refrigerator for a long time can produce carcinogenic toxins is incorrect. However, if left in the refrigerator for too long, food will produce toxins, which are harmful to health. In a home refrigerator, at a temperature of -12 to -18 degrees Celsius, meat can be stored for a month.



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