Can you eat frozen food past the expiration date and what are the risks?

Storing food in the freezer is a great idea, but not forever. Frozen foods also have their expiration date, or rather, the optimal time when they will be healthy and will not pose a health risk.

Fruit and vegetables can last 8 to 12 months in the freezer, while raw eggs can be frozen in good condition for up to a year without any problem. Stews better not exceed three months, and raw or roasted meat can be in good condition to consume between four and twelve months.

The signs you should look for

In the United States, the food industry adds dates to products to indicate freshness, although labeling regulations vary by country. In general, freezing food keeps it safe to eat long after its expiration date.

If it says “Best if used by”it is better that the product is consumed before the indicated date to maintain its quality. If it says “Sell by”, it refers to the date that the store should try to sell the product to maintain its flavor and quality. If the label is “Freeze by”, that’s the date before which it is desirable for the food to be frozen to maintain its flavor and quality.

They are not expiration dates or that they are not safe for consumption, they only indicate that the products, if consumed after the indicated date, may lose quality and flavor.

If you freeze purées, you may have noticed that if they contain potatoes, the texture is strange afterwards, it is due to the starch. The taste is good, but visually the appearance is like pieces.

Frozen foods can be consumed perfectly, but remember the most suitable times for each one, to obtain the maximum flavor and nutrients. Frozen ground beef can be kept frozen for months, and whole raw chicken or turkey can be kept for up to a year.

In the case of fish , for example, raw fish can be kept between 6 to 9 months if you freeze it. Smoked fish can keep for 3 to 6 months in the freezer, and commercial frozen fish (prepackaged) can keep for up to 12 months.

The dangers of eating spoiled frozen food

A sublimation process occurs on the frozen surface of the food. It occurs when the ice goes directly from a solid to a gaseous state, causing dehydration and burning of the food, so that its organoleptic properties are impaired: taste, texture, color and smell.

It is not dangerous for health in itself, unless the cold chain has not been respected. We will have to be more careful with the properties that the food has lost.

In the book “Frozen Food Science And Technology” it is reported that frozen meat did not have significant differences in the final quality of the product in any of the different freezing methods, even 2 months after storage. However, regarding the texture and softness of the meat, freezing and storage did affect those aspects of the meat.


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