Is month-old frozen meat safe to eat?

April 29, 2023 | 03:00 pm PT
My family has a habit of storing meat inside the freezer. Is this harmful? (Thao, 31, Vinh Phuc).

I heard from many people that eating meat that has been left for too long in the freezer can increase the risk of food poisoning, and that it might cause cancer in the long run.


The rumor about poisonous substances that formed in refrigerated food is false. However, it will be true if the food is left for too long inside the freezer.

Any kind of food will last longer when stored inside a fridge, but that doesn’t mean that you can just leave it in there for an unlimited amount of time.

Meat, when stored for transportation, is preserved in cold storage at an extremely low temperate of -50 degree Celsius and can last for 6 months.

As for regular fridges, the freezer can only range between -12 to -18 degrees Celsius, and so meat when stored like this will last up to one month. As such, your family can eat meat that has been stored inside the freezer compartment for about one month.

However, food that is stored in the fridge will still contain microbes – which are only rendered inactive in a low-temperature environment. If left inside the fridge for too long, these microbes will adapt, and slowly become active again, creating substances that are poisonous to the body.

And not just meat, but all other food products will change when refrigerated for too long. Meat will have signs of rotting, and will not be as tasty when processed and cooked. Ideally, you should finish these stored foods as soon as possible, and not store them for too long.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Duy Thinh

School of Biotechnology and Food Technology, Hanoi University of Science and Technology

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