Can you eat ice cream that has melted and refrozen?

In this brief article, we will address the query, “Can you eat ice cream that has melted and refrozen?” with a thorough analysis of the effects of eating ice cream that has melted and refrozen.

Can you eat ice cream that has melted and refrozen?

No, it is quite dangerous to eat ice cream that is melted and refrozen. Once the ice cream is melted it is turned into a creamy puddle, it will not retain its original shape and texture on refreezing. And it also happens if we eat refrozen ice cream, it can lead to food poisoning. 

Milk and dairy products are excellent growth media for a large number of microorganisms, including Staphylococci. The Staphylococci are ubiquitous in nature, with humans and animals as the primary reservoirs. They are present in the nasal passages and throat, in the hair, and on the skin of probably 50% or more of healthy individuals (2). 

Food poisoning is generally linked with partially cooked meats or eating raw food materials. However, it is not only concerned with the meat but it can also be caused due to other food materials such as rice dishes if they are not properly heated.

Sometimes, while eating we can’t decide well if the food actually tastes good and if it is properly cooked. This may be one of the problems for food poisoning.

Bacterial contamination is the main danger posed by old ice cream. Foods spoiled by bacteria which may look, smell and taste just fine can make us sick. Bacteria thrive in protein-rich foods that are also full of water including eggs, meat, fish and milk products. Freezing ice-cream and other frozen dairy products slow bacterial growth but doesn’t kill the bacteria, which begin to grow again as food thaws. The risk of food-borne illness increases after ice cream has been opened and used. Some researchers recommended discarding any ice cream that thaws completely, due to the danger of bacterial growth (1).

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Ice cream can have many microbial contaminants. In a study, ice cream samples were contaminated with coliform and fecal coliform, Salmonella spp., Shigella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter sakazakii, Escherichia coli, Listeria ivanovii and L. grayi (1).  If you have ever suffered from food poisoning, you must have not forgotten the feeling which you suffered at that time. Some of the symptoms that may be experienced by someone who suffers from food poisoning are,

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • High temperature
  • Body aches
  • General tiredness

The severity of all these mentioned symptoms varies from person to person and also depends upon the type of food poisoning which you are suffering from. And it is not necessary that you suffer from all these above-mentioned symptoms, it may be one of them when you are suffering from a food poisoning problem.

What causes food poisoning in melted and refrozen ice cream?

There are many microorganisms which can resist freezing. Repeated freezing–thawing on some bacteria (such as salmonellae) may lead to sublethal cell damage in some bacteria, such as salmonellae, campylobacters, L. monocytogenes, however, in most of the cases, freezing may have little or no effect on the numbers of viable vegetative bacteria (4). 

The major reason which can cause food poisoning in eating melted and refrozen ice cream is the issue that is created through bacteria. When we leave the ice cream without freezing temperature anywhere it melts and alters its structure.

Once the texture and cells of ice cream are changed, they cannot form the same original texture whatever we do and whichever temperature we provide melted ice cream to freeze. This destruction of texture in ice cream is due to the breakage of the cell walls of ice cream.

The growth of bacteria depends upon the time for which we left out the ice cream. Bacterial growth will be more and it will spread more quickly as long as the ice cream remains melted. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning from melted ice cream is often named Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria may be exposed to freezing as well as thawing in the course of its existence in natural environments (e.g., soils and water in temperate or cold regions), as well as during the storage and preservation of foods. The organism has been repeatedly isolated from frozen foods (e.g., ice cream). Unlike most other human food-borne pathogens, L. monocytogenes grows over a wide temperature range (1 to 45°C), with optimal growth at approximately 37°C. Listeria and other bacteria are very resistant to repeated freeze-thaw cycles (3).

Listeria is one of the hazardous bacterial agents that can cause severe sickness. This bacteria of food poisoning spreads very quickly such as in only one hour if we left out the ice cream, the growth of Listeria can reach up to a very dangerous level by continuously multiplying. 

The possible source(s) of these bacteria in ice-cream could be from the nose where it is commonly found; hands, skin, and clothing of handlers. Coughing, talking and sneezing produce droplets which could settle on ice cream during transportation, storage and retailing (1).

Then, if you eat this ice cream which is melted and contaminated by a large number of bacteria, it will definitely cause infection.

What should we do while eating ice cream?

Just as any frozen product has to melt. In the same way, when we take ice cream and change its environment then due to alteration from cool temperature to a moderate one, it will start to melt because we are not fulfilling the requirement of temperature for ice cream’s existence.

So, to avoid the melting of ice cream, we should not take out the whole tub of ice cream from the refrigerator. You should only scoop out the content of ice cream whichever you want to consume or to use in your recipes. This is one of the best safety practices that we could follow for the protection of the rest of the ice cream.

Temperature abuse during storage and shutting down freezers for long periods during storage, allowing the product to warm up and even thaw, are among the main causes of food poisoning of ice cream, because it favors the growth of bacteria (1). 

Or if you have doubts that it has been melted or another, then just throw away the ice cream, and don’t refreeze it. Throwing away is a better choice when you are having a doubt.

How is ice cream made?

Ice cream is made up of many ingredients including water, salt, flavours, stabilizers, sugar, oil, a large content of blended fat, a possible candy, nuts or fruit which is in frozen form or churned (1). The mixture of ice cream is agitated by an ice cream maker, then it is frozen in a cream consistency.


In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the query, “Can you eat ice cream that has melted and refrozen?” with a thorough analysis of the effects of eating ice cream that has melted and refrozen. We have also described the symptoms of food poisoning and some ways to safely consume ice cream. 


  1. Abou-El Khair, Emad, et al. Bacteriological quality of packaged ice cream in Gaza city, Palestine. J. Food Nutr. Sci, 2014, 2, 68-73.. 
  2. Samir, H., et al. Isolation of Staphylococcus aureus from ice-cream samples. J Vet Ani Res, 2018, 1, 204.
  3. Azizoglu, Reha O., et al. Role of growth temperature in freeze-thaw tolerance of Listeria spp. Appl Environ Microbiol, 2009, 75, 5315-5320.  
  4. Berry, Mark, et al. Effects of freezing on nutritional and microbiological properties of foods. Frozen food science and technology, 2008, 26.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!