I just found in my freezer some foie gras from two years ago. It's not cooked and is very well wrapped in aluminium foil and plastic foil.

My freezer has been kept at -20 °C ( -4 °F) or below.

I read at http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html :

Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

These short but safe time limits for home-refrigerated foods will keep them from spoiling or becoming dangerous to eat. The guidelines for freezer storage are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Is there any research proving frozen food remains safe indefinitely? Is it safe to eat that foie gras?

  • Prognosis hazy, ask again in 500 years? Define "indefinitely"... Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 8:11
  • See here: mentalfloss.com/article/57100/…
    – GEdgar
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 14:11
  • Read David A. Golden and Lilliam Arroyo-Gallyoun Chapter 10 - Relationship of frozen-food quality to microbial survival in Marilyn Erickson, Yen-Con Hung: Quality in Frozen Food for all the ins and outs. No definite answer on the first question there. They agree with the quality aspect: Prolonged shelf life of frozen foods is limited more by adverse chemical and physical changes than by microbiological concerns. That answers your 2nd question: yes it is safe, but I would not count on it tasting good.
    – user22865
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 15:18
  • 1
    If it's a frost-free (self defrosting) freezer, I'd say not to risk it. Frost-free freezers go through periodic warming cycles, so the liver and may not have been as continuously frozen as you think.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 19:50

1 Answer 1



Freezing at 0 °F is known to keep food safe by causing microbes to be dormant and prevention of microorganism growth. However, home freezing cannot be trusted to destroy parasites such as trichina and there are reports of food contamination from frozen products such as ice cream which had previous pathogen contamination.

Food stored constantly at 0 °F or below will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. Freezing keeps food safe by slowing the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage. Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.


  1. Foods if stored frozen constantly at 0 °F will stay safe over longer duration of time (i.e. until the defined time it stays frozen) but quality of the food may reduce over time due to the slow deterioration of the food components.

  2. The storage time mentioned by the US Department of Agriculture is not viewed by the food industry as "indefinite" since the quality of food will also be considered when determining the storage duration.

Although freezing can keep food safe for a very long period, the food industry will not label the storage time of frozen food as indefinite. The quality of food also needs to be considered when determining the storage duration. The storage duration for frozen food (usually in terms of months or years) is usually set out as a quality indicator. The duration may be reduced if the freezer temperature cannot reach -18°C or fluctuates to above -18°C.

  1. Thawing is a important factor in ensuring safety of frozen foods. Ice cream is an example of a frozen product which is documented to be contaminated by different bacterial pathogens.

Although the growth of microorganisms is inhibited when frozen, they may not be killed and may become active again when food is thawed. Therefore, food should not be thawed at room temperature because the process will take a long time and microorganisms, including pathogens, can multiply before the food is entirely defrosted. This may render frozen cooked food or frozen ready-to-eat food unsafe and increase the risk of cross-contamination by frozen raw food.

  • Actually, that the microorganisms become active again when thawed can be an advantage: think of frozen yogurt, or dough stored in the freezer.
    – user22865
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 15:25

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