If you think the safest way to defrost food is by leaving it in the fridge to slowly thaw, then think again.

In fact, we should be thawing frozen meat and fish by placing them in cold water, according to a Swedish researcher.

It's the quickest - and safest - way to defrost food, according to Susanne Ekstedt, who works for the food and bioscience unit of the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.

"This is something food scientists have known to be true for a long time now," Ekstedt told Science Nordic.


"But this knowledge is mostly confined to the food industry. Most people don't seem to be aware of this."

To thaw frozen meat or fish properly, put it in a freezer bag to keep water out, and then place into a bowl of cold water.

The food will then thaw quickly, as water conducts heat more effectively than air, which hastens the process.

Putting in cold water will prevent bacteria to grow.

The method follows the same principle for freezing food: that it should be done as quickly as possible.

Ekstedt made the discovery after experiments with freezing and then defrosting different foods.

Bjorg Egelandsdal, a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Norway, supported Ekstedt's recommendation and said there has ''never been any good scientific evidence'' behind the advice to thaw food in the fridge.

But what about defrosting in a microwave, a method we've all been guilty of using at some stage?

For microbiologist Per Einar Granum, of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, it's a no-no.

He only advises thawing in the microwave if you plan to use the meat in a stew - otherwise the meat will become too hard.

"It's a little too brutal for the meat," he said.