Developing a preparation and thaw guide for production staff provides guidance to ensure a food product is pulled in advance to thaw under refrigeration.

Product density will determine the length of time required to completely thaw. Individual meat patties, chicken pieces, ground meat, fish, and liquid eggs thaw in one to two days while meat roasts and whole birds may require two to three days. Food product should be removed from boxes and placed in pans with adequate room between to allow for air circulation.

All meat products and eggs should be placed in a drip proof container on the bottom shelf.  Best practice is to designate a rack or shelves for thawing meat and other products.

Refrigerator temperatures should be monitored and temperatures recorded three times a day to ensure product is kept in a safe temperature zone of 41 degrees or below. Best practice is to take and record refrigerator temperatures when staff arrive for morning shift, midday, and prior to leaving at night.

Another method is to thaw the product under cold (70° F or lower), running water. Never use warm or hot water as the food product will begin to cook. You can also thaw in the microwave only when the food product will be immediately transferred to conventional cooking facility.

Some frozen food products can be thawed directly in the oven but remember that cooking frozen products extends cooking times and can reduce product moisture as the product exterior will cook faster than the interior.

Remember to properly thaw foods, the refrigerator is the safest method to use as long as you allow sufficient time for the process.