There is a strange problem with my freezer... Things come out smelling strange.

I have a freezer full of various foods.  Most recently I have found a bit of trouble with my meat.  I pulled out some ground beef that I put in at the beginning of October and after a thaw it smelled bad.  I recognise the smell as it happened once before but went away with no apparent cause.  It is technically safe to eat the meat (I did last time.  It tasted revolting and I had to throw the whole meal away.) but with the taste and a chemo-weakened person in the house I won't be risking it anyway.  I can tell it takes time to acquire the smell because it didn't have anywhere as strong an effect on the piece that was only up there for one week.  No one could tell the smell was there after the cooking process.

Does anyone know of any likely causes or solutions?

To get the obvious out of the way:
nothing else rotted and left behind the smell during a power outage.
it wasn't rotten when I put it in


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jeff-o7 years ago
Time to clean the heck out of your freezer. Make sure you use a cleaner that kills germs.

What was the smell? Was it organic or chemical in nature?
finfan7 (author)  jeff-o7 years ago
I don't know the smell from anywhere else. It doesn't seem to have the tang of chemicals but It seems like something the meat is absorbing over time. The meat isn't tainted, just smells/tastes bad.
The part that confuses me is that it doesn't seem to be in the rest of the freezer. It only hits the meats and doesn't show up in the circulating air or other foods. I will try cleaning out the freezer probably later today with some heck remover. If that doesn't work what would be the next most likely cause?
jeff-o finfan77 years ago
Well, if the smell isn't in the rest of the freezer or food, then it must be the beef.

My favourite brand of heck remover is "St. Michael's Stinky Spirits Remover."
Burf7 years ago
Check the defroster drip pan and thoroughly clean it with a diluted bleach solution. Pull everything out of the refrigerator, including the vegetable drawers and scrub the drawers and the spaces under the drawers. Look under and behind the refrigerator and mop the floor with a mild bleach solution.
If these steps don't work, the meat may have been tainted prior to putting it in the freezer.
+1. Clean the heck out of the freezer (and the fridge, if attached; air circulates between the two), and it's possible that you started with a bad batch.

Ground beef is somewhat notorious for going bad -- if any one piece that went into the grinder was infected, the whole batch winds up being colonized. If you're going to buy it, use it fast or freeze it immediately (and use it fast after defrosting). Solid meat has less surface area so the bugs don't breed as fast (and can largely be washed/trimmed off), and is at less risk of cross-contamination.

(This one of the places where food irradiation would be of huge value, if people would just get over their fear of it.)
Re-design Burf7 years ago
craftyv7 years ago
I had a similar problem once it proved to be the gas inside the fridge that was slowly escaping from a small puncture. If your temperature is not cold enough it could be (as above). There was a strange smell, vaguely metalic but yet not. It certainly didn't smell of bad food. Hope you solve this problem.
lemonie7 years ago
You've spent a lot of text telling us about the nasty-meat, but the answer is there in your question: power outage? is that right?

Raw meat is generally not sterile, it's contaminated with bacteria. Not a problem until it has time to rot. The rest of the freezer probably wasn't raw meat or fish?

Where do you get "technically safe to eat" from?

finfan7 (author)  lemonie7 years ago
There was no outage. For the meat to go bad the freezer would have had to significantly increase in temperature in the last month and then drop back down without my noticing. I would have noticed an outage because I would have had to reset the clocks in the kitchen. And the freezer would have to have been opened for sufficient time during power outage to allow the temperature to rise. Again, this probably isn't going to happen without me finding out. Thus it wasn't a power outage.

Oh and the technically safe to eat part comes from the fact that I once made a batch without noticing the smell during cooking. (It was very lazily cooked spaghetti) We ate it without getting sick or even feeling any indigestion but it wasn't very tasty.. I'm just more leery of it now.
lemonie finfan77 years ago

I had read "nothing else rotted and left behind the smell during a power outage", that would be something else.
Cooking things does not necessarily render things safe, "bad smell" is an evolutionary development that says "bad to eat"
I'd forgotten about this. (didn't eat)

Just something to think about or look into but could it be the meat is becoming freezer burnt. Freezer burnt meat does put out a wierd smell and could be the reason it's not affecting other stuff in the freezer.