Re-freezing: can you or can't you??

I often get asked if food can be re-frozen, and I received a question on facebook yesterday which prompted this post. 

I've always believed that you can re-freeze most foods but you should not re-freeze meat.  I always thought that if you had some raw meat in the freezer you could defrost it, cook it, then re-freeze it.  But you should not defrost raw meat then return it to the freezer if it is still raw.  Now I'm not so sure if this is the case...

I wanted to answer the facebook question with a quote from an official site and found this excellent website brimming with information about food and freezing.  It is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Food Safety & Inspection Service.  Have a look at the website as they have lots of information, here's a summary:

  • What Can You Freeze?
  • Is Frozen Food Safe?
  • Does Freezing Destroy Bacteria & Parasites?
  • Freshness & Quality
  • Nutrient Retention
  • Enzymes
  • Packaging
  • Freezer Burn
  • Color Changes
  • Freeze Rapidly
  • Freezer - Refrigerator Temperatures
  • Freezer Storage Time
  • Safe Thawing
  • Refreezing
  • Cooking Frozen Foods
  • Power Outage in Freezer
  • Frozen Cans
  • Frozen Eggs
  • Freezer Storage Chart

 And here's what they say about Refreezing:

'Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F (32 deg. Celsius).

If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly."


So now I'm not so sure about meat ...  they say it can be refrozen but I think I'll continue to be cautious and not refreeze it.  I don't mind refreezing some foods such as using frozen pastry in a pie/quiche then refreezing it, adding frozen peas to a recipe that will go in the freezer, or defrosting a tub of tomato paste and not using it all so putting the leftovers back in the freezer.

What do you think?  Are you happy to refreeze?