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Because I Said So

by Kirsten Sanford, Jun 26 2009

People believe the strangest things. Usually it’s because they learned it as a child, and never stopped to question the validity of the belief.

When that belief is questioned by someone else it can be perceived as an attack not only on their intelligence, but also on the people from whom they first learned the information in question. Questioning beliefs picks away at the mentors and heroes from a person’s upbringing.It’s easier for most to leave well enough alone than to face the possibility that their heroes might have had faults.

I ran across this blind-belief in the kitchen last week, when I was told by someone that it’s bad for your health to allow something from the freezer to thaw and then be refrozen. “It will make you sick,” I was told.

“Where did you learn this?” I asked.

“Oh, I learned it growing up,” was the reply. “And, my son, he got sick after eating refrozen food.”

I told her that the refreezing isn’t necessarily good for the quality of the food as it damages whatever is being frozen, but it doesn’t affect your health.

She said that the bacteria would make me sick.

I told her the bacteria don’t multiply while they’re frozen. It’s how long the food is left out while not frozen that makes the difference. If you froze spoiled food, thawed, and ate it; or froze perfectly fine food, thawed it, left it out for too long, refroze and re-thawed it, then you might have a problem.

She sighed dramatically, rolled her eyes, told me I was wrong, and left the room. Conversation over.

She had personally experienced trouble with refreezing food, which reinforced her belief about not refreezing. She learned this rule from someone who she looked up to as a child, and who helped shape her world view.

Her rules, her belief system, keep her healthy and safe. She and her family never get sick from refrozen food.

She wasn’t about to give me anymore time to put a chink in her belief system.

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86 Responses to “Because I Said So”

  1. Brian M says:

    “Her rules, her belief system, keep her healthy and safe. She and her family never get sick from refrozen food.”

    Only because she doesn’t actually eat refrozen food. She probably has gotten sick from other food poisoning, so its not her rules, its just chance, and they likely are not keeping her any more healthy or safe then those without such a belief. But, in her mind, I bet she thinks it keeps her safe.

  2. I can’t stand the willfully ignorant! I CAN’T STAND IT!

    When Exodus Earth happens, I want to be the first on board. I think I’d be perfectly happy on one of the moons of the outer solar system. Just get me away from these people!

    • MadScientist says:

      Just don’t take the first few flights; we’ve deliberately reserved the first few for politicians and the obscenely wealthy. Those first few hundred flights will actually target the sun – it’s the least science can do to help the world.

      • zed says:

        did we learn nothing from the golgafringians? their whole civilization wiped out by a virus caught from a dirty telephone!

  3. Mel says:

    I ran into that myself. A neighbor had (mis-)taught us kids that, if you count the seconds until the thunder, the lightning is that many miles away.
    I knew that a mile was around 5000 ft long. I learned that sound traveled about 1000 ft/sec. I can do basic math. But, I still had never bothered to think that through.
    In my defense, when someone pointed out the truth to me, I changed my beliefs. The experience humbled me, and taught me how easy it is to believe something without questioning it.
    And when I think back to how many lightning strikes were 80% closer than I’d thought, I’m very glad I learned the truth! :-)

    • tarrkid says:

      I had the exact same experience. I was taught that 1 second = 1 mile, then I did the math myself one time and was shocked like you were that all those strikes were 80% closer!

      • gwen says:

        I live where lightning strikes are not that common, so I never thought about how far away it was. Just learned something NEW!!

      • Chris O. says:

        We were told that every 5 seconds was another mile, growing up. Guess my lore was right!

      • Actually every 5 seconds would be 25 miles. It would be more correct to say that every second is another 5 miles.

      • John says:

        @Matthew Hawley: No, that is not right. If something travels at 1000 ft/sec, it takes 5 seconds to cover 5000 feet. Thus, it takes the sound from lightening (thunder) 5 seconds to travel 5000 feet.

    • MadScientist says:

      That’s about 330 meters per second for me, so every 3 seconds is about 1km. I usually use this to determine how far pyrotechnic mortars are from me when they explode; even at 2km (6s) I can feel an appreciable shock, so those mortars have quite a large explosive charge in them (though nothing like the weapon type) – they’d do an awful lot of damage if they fell and detonated on someone’s house.

    • Johnny says:

      I learned the “counting seconds until thunder” thing from the movie Poltergeist when I was a kid. The father in that movie tells it to one of the children.

      I’d guess that’s where a lot of people got it from.

      My parents taught me the one about not eating refrozen food. I always kind of wondered why freezing it again would make it go bad. I’ve never been in that dilemma in reality though, so I didn’t test it.

      I’ve also been told that drinking beer that has been frozen can be hazardous. I never bought that one for a second. Frozen beer does taste terrible though, but when in a pinch I’ve taken the risk.. I survived.

  4. SicPreFix says:

    Sanford said:

    When that belief is questioned by someone else it can be perceived as an attack not only on their intelligence, but also on the people from whom they first learned the information in question. Questioning beliefs picks away at the mentors and heroes from a person’s upbringing.It’s easier for most to leave well enough alone than to face the possibility that their heroes might have had faults.

    I guess we are all subject to that phenomenon to some varying degree from time to time. Emotions are, after all, rather prone to over-riding our skeptical, critical thinking selves under all kinds of varied and often unexpected circumstances.

    I too grew up under the theme of refreezing being bad for you, especially with ice cream. My mom had me convinced that to eat refrozen ice cream was to invite death or worse.

    The same phenomenon is certainly vivid both in Shermer’s Libertarian posts here at Skepticblog, and in the replies, from both sides of the fence, to them.

    Had to be said.

    • Zachary says:

      While consuming previously-thawed, refrozen ice cream may not cause sudden death, it certainly inflicts serious damage to one’s taste buds!

      When refrozen, the fluffy, smooth structure upon which ice cream relies turns into a sticky, gooey slop fit only for the most desperate of sweet teeth..

      Though the reasons for avoiding refrozen ice cream may have been misguided, believe me — you wouldn’t have wanted it anyway.

  5. I have some friends who refrigerate their uncooked pasta. They have done so for forty years. It will get bugs if you don’t, I am told. They are shocked we don’t refrigerate our pasta. No matter what I tell them……..they refrigerate their pasta.

    I remember a lady in our Church (I was a pastor) who called me to take her to the pharmacy (20 miles away) I asked her why she didn’t refill the prescriptions at the pharmacy 4 blocks from her house. She said she couldn’t. She was certain you had to refill the prescription at the original pharmacy. She was 55 years old at time. Fortunately, she listened to me…….and learned something new. :)

    I have worked in the restaurant and grocery business and we refroze stuff frequently. (as long as it hadn’t set at room temperature and completely thawed out)

    It is amazing how often erroneous information is believed and how rarely people can be persuaded otherwise.

    • PhilB says:

      They are shocked we don’t refrigerate our pasta. No matter what I tell them……..they refrigerate their pasta.

      Our house had pretty bad weevils when I was growing up. They would get into the flour especially and other dry goods. Our solution finally was to store flour, sugar, and dry cereals in a chest freezer. That’s my anecdotal experience anyway. I suspect it was more the enclosed environment of the freezer more than temperature but it did work.

      Of course, if you don’t have weevils in your abode then refrigerating or freezing won’t make a difference besides keeping things cold.

  6. Mike K says:

    If God wanted our food to be re-frozen, he would never have created thawing. :)

    I like this post BTW; it’s a great example of the power of influence.

  7. Noadi says:

    I’ve heard that bit about not re-freezing numerous times, probably in 90% of the cookbooks I own, and it makes no sense biologically (though certain foods do suffer in taste or texture from being refrozen). I refreeze stuff all the time, though granted most of the time the food hasn’t totally thawed. I frequently have chicken breasts or sausages freeze together so if I’m not cooking for the whole family I partially thaw, break the meat apart and refreeze the rest.

    I still count the seconds between lightning and thunder even though I know the distance part is nonsense. It’s force of habit at this point. Does help me know if the storm is coming closer or not but that’s about it.

    • fluffy says:

      There’s nothing nonsensical about counting the seconds. You just have to divide by 5 to get the distance in miles.

  8. Never, ever, ever drink milk when eating fish. You’ll get sick and die.

    At least, that was the folklore in my mom’s family, and I never drank milk with fish growing up. Then, one day I brought my fiance home. We were having fish, and she’s a big milk drinker. Oh, my, I wish you could have seen the looks on my Mom and Aunt’s faces when Heather asked for milk with supper. I almost fell on the floor laughing. I explained to them that Heather had always drunk milk with fish, but they still kept a wary eye on her all night.

    I can only assume that someone in my family’s not too distant past must have gotten food poisoning or had some other illness that coincidentally killed them after mixing milk and fish. Mom has no idea where that came from. And I’ll bet she still won’t do it.

    Heather’s fine, btw. Though she doesn’t really like fish. 9^>

  9. SeanG says:

    “Now and then, hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”
    — Bertrand Russell

  10. tudza says:

    While I understand your point here, I think you are over reacting in this case. I don’t think the lady with the refreezing phobia has the mechanism exactly right on what made members of her family sick in the past, but it sounds like a reasonable protocol for food handling to me.

    Say you pull out a pound of hamburger, let it sit and thaw, and then decide not to use it and refreeze it. Wrapped or unwrapped while thawing? That would make a big difference, I believe, so lets say you unwrapped it. Would the re-freezing kill bacteria picked up during the thawing? I don’t know.

    As you point out, thawing and re-freezing can easily lower the *quality* of the food, so you have a very clear reason not to do it.

    I’m curious, what is this person’s opinion on thaw – cook – freeze cooked items that were formerly frozen? If you walked them through that scenario, maybe they’d look more closely at the one that disturbs you.

    • “Say you pull out a pound of hamburger, let it sit and thaw, and then decide not to use it and refreeze it. Wrapped or unwrapped while thawing? That would make a big difference, I believe, so lets say you unwrapped it.”

      But in that case the food is either already contaminated before refreezing, or it isn’t. The refreezing process doesn’t change that. It may already be unsafe to eat and need to be thrown out, and freezing will preserve that state, but will not make the meat more unsafe than it already is.

  11. Mitchell says:

    I’ve run across this one two. Almost exactly the same scenario. I can be serious about my food.

  12. Gib says:

    I heard somewhere a scientific and detailed explanation for the reason you shouldn’t refreeze stuff, and it was about more than just the total time being above freezing point, and something about the behaviour of bacteria. I think it could have been “Doctor Karl” (Australian scientist for the masses).

    All I found was this, which says it depends on how you defrost it as to how bad it is:
    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/canwehelp/txt/s2080613.htm

    • MadScientist says:

      “Dr. Karl” gets a lot of things wrong though; neither he nor his staff seem particularly fastidious in checking facts. I wonder if Dr. Karl still remembers me; he was looking for an old friend of his and I stuck my head around the corner and yelled “hey, there’s a little bald guy here looking for you!”

  13. tmac57 says:

    Just FYI , here are some recommendations for food safety from the USDA:
    Safe Defrosting:
    Never defrost foods in a garage, basement, car, dishwasher or plastic garbage bag; out on the kitchen counter, outdoors or on the porch. These methods can leave your foods unsafe to eat.

    There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Small items may defrost overnight; most foods require a day or two. And large items like turkeys may take longer, approximately one day for each 5 pounds of weight.

    For faster defrosting, place food in a leak proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water. (If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.) Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold. Change the water every 30 minutes. After thawing, cook immediately.

    When microwave-defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving.
    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 defrosting. 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.

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

    And this from the Michigan Food Law 2000 Sanitation Practices:
    Thawing: Potentially hazardous food shall be thawed either under refrigeration that maintains the food temperature at 41° F or less; completely submerged under running water having a temperature of 70° F or below; or as part of a cooking process.
    Cooling: Cooked potentially hazardous food shall be cooled from 140° F to 70° F within two hours or less; and from 70° F to 41° F within four hours or less.
    Reheating for Hot Holding: Potentially hazardous food that is cooked, cooled, and reheated for hot holding shall be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165° F for 15 seconds within two hours.

    Although common sense food handling practices are usually adequate, the above guidelines give a more specific view of what is considered safe by people who make it their business to ensure what we consume is truly safe.

  14. Pete says:

    @Bruce – your friends are half-correct – pasta in the fridge will definitely not get bugs.

    I wonder if this is a mis-heard recommendation for flour, which does sometime gets bugs in the pantry – not that said bugs are anything other than an annoyance.

    • MadScientist says:

      They’re more than a nuisance to me; I’m not fond of the smell or taste of boll weevils. Although they can eat pasta, I think they prefer other substances like white flour and crackers; I’ve only ever found weevils in the pasta on one occasion.

  15. KenS says:

    We used to hunt with a old man who would hang his deer for 3-4 days before processing it. He called it ageing, we called it rotting. Yuck!

    • MadScientist says:

      Yeah, my dad called it ‘rotting’ as well. The best time to do it is when the air stays very cool but doesn’t go down to freezing; you need to take precautions against maggots hatching and eating the meat too (and of course keeping flies off the carcass).

      I’ve found that you can ‘age’ meat even in equatorial regions but that does take a lot more care; I’ve done it mostly with chickens because they’re the easiest to deal with, but I’ve done pig and cow on a few occasions.

      I do it when I have time to because the meat loses moisture and doesn’t shrink as much when cooked. The same technique can also be used to dessicate and preserve meat; other techniques involve smoking the meat but at some stage even smoked meats are dessicated in the same way.

      So if you don’t like ‘rotted’ meat you’ll have to avoid things like prosciutto, pancetta, leg ham (the genuine stuff), many European sausages – a pretty long list of stuff really.

    • JanE says:

      In Europe this practice is indeed called ageing and it is a pretty normal practice to hang meat to improve its flavour, certainly for wild game.

      • SionH says:

        Ageing meat is perfectly normal, as controlled amounts of decay in a cool environment improve texture and flavour. Personally I prefer my beef to have been hung for at least 4 weeks if not 5. The most flavoursome beef should not be pinky-red when raw, but a much darker red, almost like red wine in colour.
        Drool.

  16. Max says:

    Do you constantly wonder if you were adopted and your parents have been lying to you your whole life? I don’t.

  17. sailor says:

    “When that belief is questioned by someone else it can be perceived as an attack not only on their intelligence, but also on the people from whom they first learned the information in question.”
    This is very definitely so, and can produce a strong emotional reaction, therefore one has to treat very carefully especially if you don’t want to piss them off.

  18. Brian says:

    A friend once told me about sitting down next to a coworker in the cafeteria and watching the coworker cut the crusts off of his sandwich. He asked, “Why are you cutting off the crusts?”

    The coworker shrugged. “I don’t like crusts.”

    “But that’s the best part; that’s where are the nutrients are.”

    The coworker put down his sandwich and said carefully, “Stop for a moment and think about what you just said.”

    There was a long pause. Finally my friend said, “Oh, man. All these years …”

    • Miles says:

      That’s a rather sweet story. Having a critical mind doesn’t mean that you have no false or ill-founded beliefs; it means that you are always responsive to reason and evidence. The friend in the story needed only to be made to stop and think — probably to recall what bread crust is and how unlike it is to the skin of a potato, say — to figure out that his long-held belief that it contains “the nutrients” had to be false. One can appreciate both his intelligence and his human frailty.

    • Rolando says:

      I used to tell that to my kids all the time. Of course, they knew I was joking.

    • extremely well says:

      Since these words of yours are searchable by curious minds years to come (like myself), and since this thread will persuade readers of your myth busting genius AKA veracity, I find it my obligation to respond 2 years later.

      The crust does, in fact, contain the most nutrients, as known since 2002.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021105080817.htm

  19. MadScientist says:

    You can challenge them and show that you don’t get sick from refrozen food. Sure it’s awful eating reheated food all the time for a month or so, but it’s all in the name of science. Just make sure you do it far from the flu season – you don’t want to get sick and have them going “told you so!” You need an agreed protocol on what symptoms constitutes “sick from refrozen food” as opposed to “sick from something else”. Control is difficult though – you only have to go to one restaurant with that one rotten oyster.

  20. Anonymous Coward says:

    I think a major factor in this might also be that a) we’re actually told this in school during household education and b) it’s in the manual of every fridge I’ve ever seen and c) it’s on the wrappers of almost all frozen food.
    Personally I was like ‘that would make physics, chemistry and biology fly out of the window then, sure’ and promptly ignored the advice. I prefer to eat my food fresh, but I’ll gladly refreeze something if that means I don’t have to throw something away or if it influences logistics in such a way that it saves me a trip to the supermarket.
    I like all the replies too, and to contribute to that I’ll add a misconception of my own. For years I thought loop unrolling was a good thing in performance critical situations. That doesn’t mean I did it often, but the idea was there in the back of my mind. And then I learnt that in many cases the fact that if you would unroll enough to get the benefit, the added code size could push other code out of the processor cache harming performance of other threads, or worse, make the loop itself bigger than the processor cache. I timed some examples and the slowdowns really surprised me. So no more unrolling without benchmarking for me. That said, if your loop is small you can still do it. But you have to think about the cache, and possibly paging if you’ve got many of ‘m.
    There must be many other things that I’ve had to rethink over the years, but this was the first example that popped in my head. Sorry if it’s a bit technical.

  21. I’ve got nine kids. After this article I can stop standing so close to the microwave. I ignored the evidence anyway.

  22. The Blind Watchmaker says:

    This would make a good Mythbusters epi.

  23. Dr. T says:

    This example shows how impossible it is to get most people to be skeptical, logical, and rational. Being skeptical, logical, and rational requires two things: average intelligence and a willingness to work your brain. Most people dislike working their brains, and convincing them to do so is difficult. Even people who work their brains regularly at their jobs often fail to do so when they aren’t at work, which is why they can believe nonsense such as the efficacy of ‘alternative’ medicine or that playing slots or roulette will result in big wins.

    – A pessimistic skeptic

  24. sonic says:

    I am having a difficulty with this story. What am I missing?

    There are circumstances in which the refreezing of food would lead to contamination. The refreezing of food will always degrade the foods nutritional value.
    Therefore it is more true to say that refreezing food will lead to ill health than to say it will not.
    It seems that this would be the conclusion come to by use of skepticism.
    Here is the definition of the word skepticism as I am using it-

    Skepticism
    1. A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety.
    2. The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general.
    3. A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.
    What am I missing here?

    • Sonic,
      “There are circumstances in which the refreezing of food would lead to contamination. ”

      No, the food is either already contaminated as a result of thawing, or it isn’t; refreezing won’t change that. It’s just as safe to eat after refreezing as it was just before refreezing. It may have gotten contaminated by improper thawing, but again, that won’t be affected by refreezing. Freezing simply locks the food into its state (whatever that may be) at the time of freezing.

      “The refreezing of food will always degrade the foods nutritional value.”

      Unsupported, unqualified, unquantified, and doubtful- any degradation (whether markedly significant or not)of nutritional value likely mostly took place during the initial freezing; it is doubtful much additional degradation would result from the second freezing, or any additional refreezings. (Repeated freeze thaw cycles will not eliminate all nutritional value)

      “Therefore it is more true to say that refreezing food will lead to ill health than to say it will not.”

      Non Sequitor. The first point was refuted, the second point, even if true, would not support a conclusion that “ill health” results from consuming refrozen food. At most, you’re looking at a (slightly) reduced nutritional value of the food, not “ill health”. Your conclusion also implies that either one time frozen food also results in “ill health” or that refreezing results in a greater degradation of nutritional value that the initial freezing.

      • sonic says:

        Karl-
        I hear what you are saying, but I think you missed my point-
        That is: Under no circumstance is refrozen food safer or more nutritious than non-refrozen food. Here is a link to give some specifics about the nutrition-
        http://www.nutritiondata.com/topics/processing

        Given that there are no examples of where refrozen food would be healthier than non-refrozen food, and given that there are definite degradations to nutrition, and given that the possibility of contamination exists, it seems safe to say that non-refrozen food is better and safer than refrozen food. This is to say that refrozen food has inherent risks that are not associated with non-refrozen food.

        By the definition of skepticism-
        1. A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety.

        I would think that the definite answer regarding refreezing food would be – it can’t do any good, it can do harm.

        Therefore to say that someone who doesn’t like the idea of refreezing food is wrong or foolish is not a skeptical attitude.

      • Sonic,
        You still haven’t explained why your argument applies more to refrozen food that it does to one-time frozen food; your link did not address refreezing at all, which was what was covered in the post. You have not provided any support to the claim that refreezing causes any additional nutritive value loss over the initial freezing. The link did not state that there is a nutrient loss for each freeze of a food item, and it would not be logical to assume the loss would be the same for each freezing.

        Non-refrozen (and never frozen food) food has the obvious risk that it will spoil if not consumed quickly enough. Faced with the choices of

        A. Disposing of food that will not be consumed before it spoils,
        B. Freezing that food, or
        C. simply refrigerating that food and consuming it when ready even though is expired,

        it seems option B is healthier for you than option C, and not everyone can afford option A.

        Nobody in this thread has claimed frozen or refrozen food has more nutrients than fresh food. That is a straw man that you alone are implying.

        You seem to be using this post as an opportunity to argue against frozen food in general under the pretense of opposing refreezing food.

        Regarding the opposition to freezing food in general, I don’t find the numbers in the link you posted, between 0-5% nutrient loss for most nutrients except for potassium & copper (10%) and vitamin C (30%), to be a very compelling reason not to freeze food, and no reason to not refreeze food that has already been frozen once, considering the added convenience provided by freezing food.

        Regarding you ending comments,
        1. You have not shown that refreezing food can do any addition “harm” at all.
        2. I have shown that freezing food that will not be consumed before it spoils is, can in fact, be beneficial.
        3. I would say that someone who is arguing against refreezing when the only facts they provide are in regards to initial freezing is either engaging in an intentionally disingenuous argument, or is failing to perceive the logical fallacy in their argument.
        4. The loss of nutrients from freezing is fairly minor (mostly 0-5%), and probably does not offset the convenience of freezing for most people.

      • “..is failing to perceive the logical fallacy in their argument..”

        “Bingo”, say those of us who are more familiar with Sonic’s endless failed attempts to teach skeptics what skepticism is.

      • tmac57 says:

        ‘Sonic’ would be naturally antagonistic to ‘Tastee Freez’ .

      • sonic says:

        Karl-
        1. Each time food is thawed there is a chance of contamination. True of False?
        2. Freezing food decreases the nutritional value of the food. True or False?
        3. Refreezing food might decrease the nutrional value further, but would not increase the nutrional value. True or False?

        All other things being equal (assuming no economic argument), it is not a good idea to refreeze food given 1,2,and3 above. Agreed?

        Now you might want to make the economic argument- “I can’t afford to toss this food and it is good enough.”
        That might be true, but it is not the same as saying that refrozen food is as good as not refrozen food.
        My point is that saying refrozen food is unhealthy is not completely false, in fact it has many merits.
        An individuals economic situation or unwillingness to toss food would also be factors in the decision to refreeze the food, but one should acknowledge that refreezing food is far from the optimum and includes health risks.

        Am I still being illogical?

      • DA, I believe I’m a little familiar with sonic from other blogs.

        Sonic,
        Yes, you are still being illogical.
        You’d also be doing a little better if you wouldn’t be engaging in a stealth argument about frozen food when the topic was really RE-frozen food.

        “1. Each time food is thawed there is a chance of contamination. True of False?”

        Food which is not frozen has a chance of contamination; thawing has nothing to do with it. As long as the food is thawed properly, thawing itself does not increase the risk of contamination.

        “2. Freezing food decreases the nutritional value of the food. True or False”

        Not relevant to the question of RE-freezing. You have not provided any evidence the RE-freezing decreases nutritional value.

        “3. Refreezing food might decrease the nutrional value further, but would not increase the nutrional value. True or False?”

        Meaningless question- RE-freezing food might not decrease the nutritional value, and still increase the usefulness of the food. Men from Mars MIGHT land a flying saucer on the White House lawn tomorrow.

        You still have not shown any support for the idea that RE-freezing food reduces nutritional value. You also have not provided any support for the position that the initial freezing produces an unacceptable decrease in nutritional value.

        In fact, the link you provided shows freezing to be less destructive to the nutritional value of the food than any of the other processing methods listed. Cooking and reheating are far more detrimental to the nutritional value of food than freezing.

        From your link: “However, cooking is also beneficial, because it kills potentially harmful microorganisms that are present in the food supply.”

        I submit that freezing and refreezing are also beneficial because they prevent potentially harmful microorganisms from entering the food supply.

        Your argument summed up is, “Ignoring the facts that refute or invalidate my position, I win, agreed?”

        You continue to discuss RE-frozen food, even though you have not supported your claims about RE-freezing beyond the mere speculation that RE-freezing MIGHT decrease nutritional value.

        You then continue with equating less nutritive value with unhealthy, and have not supported that position in any way.

        “but one should acknowledge that refreezing food is far from the optimum and includes health risks”

        I cannot agree with either of those claims, and you have not supported either one.

  25. Boredagain says:

    I have also heard this for a long time with skunked beer. If it is cold then left out to room temperature than made cold again it can become foul, or “skunked”. I took this at face value for a long time but after thinking about it, it didn’t make sense that if the bottle was never opened it could somehow become contaminated. Turns out that it is the light reacting with sulfurs contained in the hops of the beer. So if you have a clear bottle of beer and leave it out in the sun it will become skunked. Blue and green light causes the most effect, so that beers in blue or green bottles will turn beer quicker than clear. The best bottle is brown, which gives the beer the most protection and could take hours to become skunked.

    • Well, the whole issue can be avoided by scarfing down beers as fast as you can, which is the proper method. Anyone who leaves a beer alone long enough to go skunky is no beer drinker at all.

    • cwitty says:

      Wait… that doesn’t make sense. Beer in a clear bottle will get at least as much blue light (at least as many blue photons) as beer in a blue bottle.

      • Boredagain says:

        True, clear bottles must have the same effect. From the website:

        “Blue light, and to a lesser extent green and a bit of near ultraviolet are the most damaging to beer. Most wavelenghts of ultraviolet light are not a concern because glass blocks them quite effectively (that’s why you don’t get sunburned in your car). The color of glass is the color of the light that it transmits, so green bottles allow the green light though. Similarly, blue light passes unhindered through pretty, cobalt-blue bottles. Clear bottles transmit all of the visible light. That is the reason beer in green, blue, and clear bottles is almost always skunked. Yes, even some very expensive imports.”

        http://www.evansale.com/skunked_beer.html

    • JanE says:

      Most beers, when stored properly (away from light and at a constant temperature), don’t spoil as soon as the label says and will keep for several months. Most of the darker, higher alcohol beers that I drink in Belgium will happily stay good for anything between 6 months and a year.

  26. catgirl says:

    When I was only 5, I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real (due to an older brother who was annoyed by me talking constantly about Santa). My mom warned me not to tell the other kids at school, but I just couldn’t keep the secret to myself. To my surprise, the other kids didn’t believe me. One boy actually said the he knew Santa had to be real, because the name tags on his gifts said “From:Santa”. His is excuse is that he was 5 years old.

  27. tmac57 says:

    Here are some “because I told you so” stories/jokes:
    #1
    The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother’s brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, “Why do you cut off the ends — that’s the best part!” She answers, “That’s the way my mother always made it.”

    The next week, they go to the old bubbie’s house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she askes her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, “Dahlink, that’s the only way it will fit in the pan!”

    #2
    When my friend Dale opens a can, she always turns it upside down to open it from the bottom. One day her young son asked her why. “I don’t really know,” she said. “My mom always did it that way.” She decided to call her mom and ask.

    “When we brought the cans up from the cellar, the tops were always dusty,” her mother explained. “I couldn’t be bothered to clean them, so I turned them upside down and opened the bottom.”

    #3
    A young woman is preparing her first thanksgiving dinner. As she gets everything ready for thanksgiving day, she very sternly reminds herself to let the turkey finish thawing in the sink overnight. She puts it in and places the dishrack over the top of the bird. Her husband walks into the kitchen and sees this. “Why are you doing that?” he asks.

    “My mom always did that to help the turkey thaw” she told him.

    The next day Mom calls to see how everything is going. “Fine, Ma. I have everything ready to go in the oven. I even remembered to put the rack over the turkey last night.”

    This seemed to confuse her mother a bit. “What are you talking about?” she asked.

    “Oh, I remember you always put the dish rack over the turkey when it was thawing in the sink,” she said.

    There was a pause on the end of the line. “Yes, but honey, we had cats!”

    #4
    A more frightened than injured young Seabee electrician was brought into the hospital suffering from electrical burns. Shortly afterward his instructor, a chief electrician, arrived. “Why on earth didn’t you turn off the main power switch before you tried to splice the wires?” asked the chief.

    “I wanted to save time, chief, and I’ve seen you stand on one leg, grab the wires and splice without turning off the power.”

    “My God, kid,” exclaimed the chief. “Didn’t you know I have a wooden leg?”

    • Hah, good’ns.

      #4 reminded me of when I long ago worked in the art department of a sign company, alongside a couple other graphic artists. A common tool was the very pointy, very sharp X-Acto knife. The guy next to me had a wooden leg and loved those moments when the owner or salesmen would bring customers back into our shop area to see us at work there, sitting at our project boards. At just the right moment, when a few customers were lingering over him and asking questions, he’d take his X-Acto knife in his fist and plunge it into the top of his thigh “boing-g-g-g!”

  28. Michael Kingsford Gray says:

    #Bruce
    …in our Church (I was a pastor) …
    It is amazing how often erroneous information is believed and how rarely people can be persuaded otherwise.

    The absurdity of a church pastor claiming amazement that people will believe erroneous things, is so dripping with IRONY, that it is starting to rust.
    Thanks for the belly-laugh, Bruce.

    • mikekoz68 says:

      I was thinking of writing a similar comment until I noticed Bruce’s full moniker- Bruce the Agnostic- so perhaps he has seen the light? (or not seen the light??)

      • tmac57 says:

        I think he might not be sure about the light.Or not.Possibly.It depends.But I could be wrong.Or right.

  29. LindaRosa says:

    There’s quite a bit of pseudoscience and bogus beliefs we start picking up as children — about childhood. A fascinating new book by the skeptical child developmental psychologist Jean Mercer exposes a lot of these, and even the most seasoned skeptic may have some surprises reading it. The book is called “Child Development: Myths and Misconceptions.” It has 50 some short essays evaluating the science for or against particular beliefs about kids. It’s a short course in critical thinking, as well.

    (By the way, those nasty quacks knowns as “Attachment [Holding] Therapists” have been giving Jean’s book bad reviews on Amazon. This is because Jean is the leading critic of their brutal practices.)

  30. I’ve got one that always struck me a myth, sort of. It’s this:

    Among the non-alcoholic drinks, I’ve never found much to like, not Pepsi, not Coke, none of it, nor much of anything else for casual drinking (alcohol is for serious drinking, not in play here). But I love coffee. I drink a lot of coffee (no jokes, tmac). I live in North Carolina where it gets quite hot and humid, but I still drink coffee, occasionally hot tea. That’s the set up.

    People ask me, “How can you drink coffee when it’s so hot? Doesn’t it make you hotter? It would me.” For them, hot drinks are for cold weather and cold drinks are for hot weather. But…

    Wouldn’t any fluid within the normal range of serving temperature, taken in a sip or no more than a mouthful at a time, quickly move to one’s body temperature of roughly 98.6 F? I realize if you guzzle a cold drink you can feel it in your gizzard going down (apologies for technical language), but at the usual rate of ingestion isn’t the temperature of a fluid essentially a non-factor in terms of cooling you off or warming you up? Wouldn’t the sense of cooling be a function of hydration rather than an ounce of liquid cooling off one’s whole body?

    Curious minds want to know.

    • PhilB says:

      I might be able to handle this one, this sounds like it falls along similar lines to the “drink cold water to help lose weight” myth. The idea being that your body uses additional calories to bring the water up to body temperature.

      This is driven by the fact that in the US a calorie on a nutrition label is actually a kilocalorie. Anecdotally it seems very few people are actually aware of this and it generates a lot of confusion.

      So with non-caffinated drinks, I suspect you’re correct and any actual effect perceived would be largely psychological. With caffinated beverages like coffee and tea, this could get a little complicated as the caffine can elevate the metabolism and cause the body to produce more energy and heat.

    • Max says:

      The hot fluid “moves” to your body temperature, and your body moves to the fluid temperature, and sweats to cool off.

      That said, the Turks, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and others from the Caucusus and the Steppe, all drink strong, hot coffee or black tea year round.

  31. Would caffeine tolerance factor in significantly? I can drink 8 pots of caffeinated coffee and lay right down and fall… zzzzzzz.

    • tmac57 says:

      “I can drink 8 pots of caffeinated coffee and lay right down and fall… zzzzzzz.”
      Uh…well yeah after following it with 8 six packs of beer. Bet you don’t sleep too long, unless you have an extra large bladder though ;-)

      • Well, 8 pots was an exaggeration. Two 12 oz mugs in the morning, two more around noon, two more after dinner, as a daily ‘usual’. Sometimes more, rarely less. I have learned to sleep standing up in the bathroom.

  32. Retired Prof says:

    I’m always bemused by anglers who throw back certain species because other people consider them not good to eat. My father-in-law, from southern Arkansas, was astonished that I kept a jack (chain pickerel). We cooked it and I talked him into tasting it. After that, he kept them too.

    I like to try new species for myself. There are a number (the mooneye, for example) that I now always throw back. But I’m going by experience, not rumor.

    On the other hand, in salt water, where I might catch a puffer, or some species with ciguatoxin, I would pay more attention to my cultural forebears.

  33. Some species are avoided due to considerations other than taste, such as being too ‘bony’ or cooking up too mushy. Other species are shunned as ‘bottom feeders’ believed to eat excrement and rotting flesh. Still others are carriers of waterborne spiritual disease, the scaly minions of the Great Swamp Evil, and must not be allowed to spread infection to Airworld.

  34. Jeshua says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned my favorite hand-me-down fallacy–the three second rule for food that falls on the floor. Strangely enough i recently read a scientific article that claimed there is some truth to this one. For me the crucial factors are: how dirty is the floor, how dry is the food, how much do i want it (i.e., is it the last cookie in the bag) and can i beat my Beagle to it. BTW, i have never gotten sick from eating something off the floor, but i do take certain factors into account b4 doing so.

    Actually, the list is almost endless. Do you really need to lather, rinse, repeat every time you wash your hair? Will it really affect your sleep if you have coffee near bedtime? (I frequently do and still sleep all night with no problem) Do you really need 8 glasses of water a day? Is it really more manly to eat chicken-fried steak and curly cheese fries rather than fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread and pasta, seeds and nuts? (My brother-in-law swears by this one.) Will eating raw oysters really improve your performance in the sack? Do the good always die young?

    It’s very early in the morning here and i should be sleeping, but i’m still recovering from jet lag–any folk remedies for jet lag?

  35. Beast of the lake says:

    “People believe the strangest things. Usually it’s because they learned it as a child, and never stopped to question the validity of the belief.” There you hit the nail right on the head, whether you apply it to refrozen food –frankly, I´m with you there, though I prefer fresh food whenever possible– or to any other imprinted belief, be it religious, political social or whatever. Why, if not, do we accept as natural that obvoius incompetents (those who’ve led us, at our own expense, to the present crisis. DDo you really believe there was only one Maddof?) should ger our help –that is our money– while they go scot-free? We’re conditioned to do so: it’s not particularly new, you just imprint a certain view of the world and social relations and anything that transgredes it is either treason, is viewed as “communism” (“demonic” in your part of the world) or any other swear word you might prefer. But there are facts which, without much effort, might make us think twice. Tank you all.

  36. Beast of the lake says:

    Oops! sorry about that. The last phrase should read “THank”n, not “Tank” you all.

  37. Beast of the lake says:

    Ridiculous! I feel humble. That’s “Thank you all”. Oh, damm!

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