Frozen food myths debunked

As we near the end of September and Food Safety Education Month, we’d like to set the record straight about some common frozen food myths. Some of these misconceptions come from a UK consumer survey recently conducted by frozen food producer Birds Eye.

Myth #1:  Fresh produce is more nutritious than frozen.

One in five Brits incorrectly assume fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than their frozen counterparts, with more than 30% of those ages 18–34 thinking that is the case. In fact, two studies commissioned by the Frozen Food Foundation revealed that frozen produce is as rich in nutrients, and often more so, than fresh. A “market basket” study by the University of Georgia found the amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and folates in several frozen fruits and vegetables are actually greater than their fresh-stored counterparts. Similarly, a University of California-Davis study found frozen fruits and vegetables are nutritionally equivalent to fresh-stored produce.

Myth #2:  It’s not safe to cook foods in their frozen state; they need to thaw first.

Approximately 40% think it’s not safe to pop any frozen food right into the oven or microwave. According to Laura Tilt, registered dietician and health writer, “Many, but not all, foods can be cooked from frozen. Examples include chicken breasts, mince, pizza, fruit and vegetables, fish and ready meals.” Her advice is to read the package label for complete cooking instructions.

Myth #3:  Thawed food can be refrozen without cooking it first.

Around one in four people surveyed believe you can refreeze thawed food and cook it later. The truth is once frozen food is thawed, it can start to spoil and harmful bacteria may grow. The safest route is to fully cook thawed food according to package directions and then freeze it for later consumption.

Myth #4:  It’s fine to defrost frozen meat on the counter.

From the survey, 41% know it’s unsafe to thaw foods on the counter. While many think it’s fine to defrost meat in the refrigerator, the best way is to wrap the frozen food in plastic and submerge it in cold water. This method works fairly quickly and maintains the food’s nutritional value and flavor, because water is a better heat conductor than air. This method also works better than defrosting in a microwave, which can make the meat tough.

See here to learn more about the role that frozen foods play in the modern consumer’s diet.

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