Does Freezing Meat Kill Bacteria? (Important Facts)

Does Freezing Meat Kill Bacteria

We’ve all heard the warnings about “danger zone” temperatures and how they can kill bacteria, but it’s not always clear what this means.

This post will help you understand how to properly freeze meat for safety.  First, we’ll look at whether or not freezing kills bacteria and why that matters.

So, does freezing meat kill bacteria?

Unfortunately, freezing meat doesn’t kill bacteria. Instead, it slows down their growth so they don’t grow as quickly while frozen—meaning that once thawed, they may still be alive in your food. So if you want to keep them dead (and thus safe to eat), you need to change the temperature high enough that they can’t grow.

Although an anaerobic environment is difficult to achieve in a home freezer, commercial freezing equipment may be able to produce it by lowering temperatures far below what’s possible at home. 

While there are some bacteria that don’t require oxygen and can survive an anaerobic environment – most of them stop growing well before freezing temperatures are reached.

The length of time frozen meat stays safe on your kitchen counter also matters because even if bacteria haven’t grown yet (due to low temperatures or improper storage), the longer meat sits around outside of the freezer the more time bacteria have to grow.

In most cases, bacteria can start to grow rapidly after two hours on the counter.

Does freezing meat kill bacteria? Explained

Freezing meat will actually only slow down the growth of bacteria. Freezing does not kill all bacteria, which means that freezing does not make meat safe to eat. Only cooking does that!

The reason why you don’t want to keep food out at room temperature for an extended period of time is that it can allow harmful bacteria (like salmonella and e-coli) a chance to grow.

The first step in food safety is prevention: refrigerate or freeze your food as soon as possible after purchasing it.

If you are going to put your meat in the freezer, here are some tips for making sure it stays safe and doesn’t get ruined:

1) Cut your meat into smaller pieces before freezing to quick thawing and cooking.

2) Use a container that does not have any punctures for your freezer. Any holes will allow bacteria to get in or out of the container.

3) The best way to store your food is tightly wrapped in foil or some other rigid material. This will keep the cold air from directly touching the food and help prevent freezer burn.

Freezing meat does not equal cooking meat, so you should cook your frozen food thoroughly before eating it.

Making sure all of the meat is cooked can be helpful to prevent foodborne illness.

Does freezing meat kill E Coli?

Freezing meat will not kill E Coli bacteria. E Coli is a type of bacteria that can be found in the intestines of humans and animals, including cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep.

It’s also always present on raw meat. There are countless types of E Coli but only a few will cause disease by infecting the intestinal tract.

The E Coli infections can spread to other organs like kidneys and cause more harm than just diarrhea alone. So you need to wash your hands after touching meat and cook it properly before eating it!

The best way to kill E Coli is by cooking your food properly at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius or higher for at least two minutes.

This can be achieved in an oven, microwave, or on a stovetop but make sure you follow proper procedures and cook time!

If you’re unsure how long to cook something on the stove, throw a few tablespoons of water in a pot. If it boils off in 2-3 minutes, then it’s ready! 

Does freezing meat kill salmonella?

Freezing meat will slow down the growth of salmonella, but it will not kill it.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that lives in many different environments such as soil, grass, water, and food.

It causes diarrhea and vomiting with fever for several days after infection. This bacterial infection can be found on raw meat, chicken eggs, or milk products.

If you don’t cook them properly before eating any product from these sources then you’re likely to get sick!

Because freezing does not kill this bacteria (or any other), it’s very important to make sure you cook your food thoroughly before consuming anything.

How long should you freeze meat to kill parasites?

Freezing meat does not kill parasites. Instead of relying on your freezer to eliminate all harmful microorganisms from your food, it’s better to heat the food thoroughly.

This will kill off any bacteria that might be present in your food, ensuring its safety for consumption.

How long you should cook an item depends on a wide variety of factors including cooking vessel type, temperature setting, and depth/thickness of the food itself so always look up specific recipes!

Does freezing food kill bacteria?

Freezing food does not necessarily kill bacteria. Freezing food doesn’t completely halt the growth of all microbes, but it does slow it down considerably.

Freezing meat also stuns any harmful bacteria already present on or in the meat and keeps them from multiplying during storage.

The bacterium that causes botulism poisoning is a common example of why freezing doesn’t always kill harmful microbes in food.

Learn more about freezing here.

Clostridium botulinum (the bacterium) multiplies at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F; below 40°F slows its growth rate.

Can bacteria grow on frozen food?

Bacteria can grow in an unfrozen refrigerated environment, so it’s fair to wonder if there are bacteria on frozen food.

If an item is improperly handled before or during freezing or thawing (or afterward), bacteria can grow and end up contaminating the food which would then cause it to spoil.

Bacteria also can grow on an item that has already been frozen and then refrozen.


Freezing food does not guarantee the safety of raw meat, milk products, and eggs.  Always cook them properly before eating to avoid getting sick!

The most important method for killing bacteria in your food is by cooking thoroughly at a temperature of at least 70 degrees Celsius or higher for at least two minutes.

This can be achieved on an oven, stovetop, microwave, wok, or pan all with slightly different temperatures so always check your specific recipe to confirm how long you’re supposed to cook something!


USDA: Food Safety and Inspection Service