Freezing food safely

Did you know? Food can be frozen up to its use-by date and eaten at another time so it doesn’t end up thrown out!

Remember, the freezer acts like a pause button so anything frozen right before its use-by date must then be cooked immediately after defrosting. Label items as you put them into the freezer to rule out any confusion.

Defrost food in a suitable container overnight in the fridge. Where food is frozen on its use-by date it should be defrosted in the fridge and consumed as soon as possible, but not more than 24 hours after defrosting.

Defrosted foods should only be refrozen once it has been cooked to above 75°C. It should not be refrozen more than once.

Please note that although the recommendation for consumers preparing and freezing their own food at home is not to refreeze defrosted food without a cooking step in between, in the case of foods labelled ‘This product has been previously frozen but is suitable for home freezing.’ or something similar, the product can be refrozen by the consumer. This occurs where the manufacturer has rigorous controls in place to maintain the product safety.

In the case of a power cut, all is not lost.

  • A freezer full of food will usually keep for about 2 days if the door is shut.
  • A half-full freezer will last about 1 day if the door is shut. To determine the safety of food when the power is restored, check their condition and temperature.

If food is partly frozen and still has ice crystals then it is safe to refreeze or use. Discard food that has been warmer than 5°C for more then 2 hours.

The temperature of the freezer should be -18°C or less.

Generally, food can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months but this depends on the star rating of the appliance. Consult the manufacturer’s handbook as all freezers have a star rating:

* Runs at –6°C and should only store food for up to one week

** Runs at –12°C and should only store food for up to one month

*** Runs at –18°C and should only store food for up to 3 months

**** Runs at –18°C and is suitable for long term storage (3 to 6 months)

This page is brought to you in collaboration with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. For more information about food safety, visit