Is it safe to freeze cooked foods?

April 22, 2024 | 10:36 pm PT
I regularly freeze cooked meals to economize and for the ease of later use. Are there any health concerns associated with this practice? (Hang, 35, Hanoi)


The act of freezing essentially slows down spoilage by preventing the growth of microorganisms, thereby making food safe. It is a convenient approach for those with a hectic lifestyle, enabling the preparation of a range of tasty and healthy meals without spending too much time.

A wide variety of cooked items, such as meats, fish, and vegetables, are suitable for freezing. It's crucial to cool prepared meals to refrigerator temperature within two hours of cooking, or within one hour if the foods are exposed to temperature above 32 degrees Celsius during preparation.

Frozen vegetables. Illustration photo by Pixabay

Frozen vegetables. Illustration photo by Pixabay

Different foods have varying recommended freezing durations. For instance, the advised freezing periods for several common prepared foods are as follows:

- Pork: Two to three months

- Poultry: Four months

- Fish: Two to four months

- Soups and stews: Two to three months

To maintain freshness and safety, food must be frozen correctly. Ensure the freezer temperature is set to -18 degrees Celsius or below. Food should be securely wrapped, and hot food should not be placed in the freezer immediately as it can raise the internal temperature, potentially impacting other stored items. Allow food to cool thoroughly prior to freezing.

Consider separating the food into smaller servings for easier defrosting later, and only remove the necessary amount from the freezer when needed.

It's important to keep uncooked food away from cooked food to avoid cross-contamination in the freezer. Once defrosted, food should be consumed entirely to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Dr. Ho Mai Huong

Vietnam Institute of Applied Medicine

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