Is Meat Safe To Eat With Freezer Burn?
It is not unsafe to eat meat that has a freezer burn as it will not harm your health in any way. However the taste will change as freezer burns draw out the moisture and flavor from the meat. The quality will change in terms of taste but not safety.
While freezing foods in a freezer is perfectly safe for consumption, it definitely has an adverse impact on flavor and aroma. Contrary to popular belief, if your meat (or frozen foods, generally) does experience freezer burn, it is not actually unsafe to eat. Note that although freezer burn alone does not make foods unsafe to eat, foods frozen in the wrong conditions still may spoil.
Freezer burn is just a result of air coming in contact with the food, and although it might not seem appealing, it is generally safe to eat. Freezer burn is a phenomenon that occurs due to sublimation of the food — the process by which ice turns into water vapor, leaving the meat hard and dry.
|What causes freezer burn?
|How to protect meat from freezer burn?
|Freezer burn is caused by food dehydration and oxidation.
|Pack the meat very well because freezer burn is a result of excess airflow in the packaging.
|Foods that have high water contents like meat, vegetables or ice cream are affected by it mostly.
|Store foods at consistent temperature of 0°F and make sure that the temperature do not fluctuate at all.
It explains that freezer burn happens when wet molecules from the interior of your freezer sneak out of your food package (or whatever it is wrapped in) and gather onto your food, creating a kind of icing. Opening your freezer often causes temperature fluctuations inside, and when food starts to thaw, more ice crystals will form. When putting packages into your freezer, you want to get them frozen as fast as possible to avoid ice crystals from growing, which can ruin texture. When your frozen foods are placed in a freezer, the water molecules inside your foods will form ice crystals.
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Water vaporizes in all temperatures, so even if your food is frozen, it is still losing water. If you really do defrost food in your fridge, it is fine to re-freeze without cooking (but quality can suffer due to the loss of moisture). Otherwise, that hot food could lower temperatures in the freezer, which would result in adjacent foods partly melting then refreezed. You should allow foods to cool down before freezing if they are cooked, as heat causes steam in packaging, which can then create ice crystals and cause the freezer to burn the food.
For cooler foods, that means keeping foods in a fridge between 0degC to 4degC (32degF–40degF) and a freezer between -18degC/0degF or lower. Refrigerating cold foods involves more than just making sure that they are stored at an appropriate temperature. When you put food in a freezer, there is a fine line that must be crossed in order to keep that food safe from the extreme cold and ice the freezer provides. How food is stored correctly, including in a freezer, is crucial in maintaining foods that are safe to consume and are of quality.
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There are specific steps that you need to take when you are repackaging foods for the freezer to make sure that they will last as long as possible. While prolonged storage in a freezer will impact the quality of any food, it is also worth noting that raw meats and poultry retain quality for much longer than cooked meats and poultry. Different foods live on different shelves in your freezer, and some will freeze for longer than others. We are here to put that issue finally to rest, because the USDA says as long as all foods are stored at or below 0F in the freezer, they are safe for consumption indefinitely.
To reiterate, because freezing foods to 0degF or lower keeps them safe almost indefinitely, you are free to defrost and eat any frozen meats or poultry at any given time (that were properly stored). The only time you need to worry about the safety of frozen meat is when you remove it from the freezer. If you are dealing with a meal that is taken out of a freezer (from a store or from home), left out on the counter for some time, then returned to the freezer without cooking, you should not be eating it. Moms can be assured that food burned in the freezer is safe for consumption, but that does not mean that we want to always eat it.
If foods coming out of your freezer look hard, wrinkled, discolored in spots, or covered with ice crystals, it is likely that it is freezer burned. When removing ice layers, if you see areas or spots that are browned and perhaps appear slightly hard, those are freezer burn. Karen M. Shaich says that freezer burn can also result in a loss of color, and can also cause a slightly rougher texture on food surfaces. Just as it does for other forms of meat, the spots from freezer burn can potentially cut through meat.
It is also recommended that if a meat is extremely freezer-burnt, with nearly all the covering being matted down and dried out, you might just consider throwing it out, as it might not be that great tasting. When you bite into cooked steak that has been freezer burned, it will have a dry, nearly flavorless flavor because it has lost the water molecules which hold most of the flavors in food. Freezer-burnt fish is still safe to eat, but like anything, you will likely notice differences in quality, taste, and texture.
Because freezer burn conditions are caused by food dehydration and oxidation, you will notice affected foods, such as meats and vegetables, will look dried and shrunken. However, since freezer burn is caused by dehydration, foods that have high water contents, like produce, meat, poultry, fish, or ice cream, are generally affected more heavily than foods that have lower water contents, like nuts, seeds, or flour (4, 5). It is really a result of excess airflow or improper packing, which causes the surface of foods to become dehydrated or dried out, says Karen M. Shaich, PhD, professor of food sciences at Rutgers University.
Either way, once in your freezer, you want to make sure that any foods are stored at or below 0F so they maintain their color, vitamin content, texture, and – of course – taste. It is important to note, however, that although foods stored consistently at 0 degF will always be safe, once they are defrosted, their quality will still suffer. If you keep your freezer set at 0 degF (18 degC), bacteria and other harmful pathogens cannot grow, and your food will be safe to eat–as long as it was cool when you put it in, and thawed properly (3).
Take note of each foods average shelf life in the freezer, and consider adding that shelf life date to the labels. Only purchase things that you anticipate using in the next 2-4 months, and when packing your freezer foods, label them with a date, so that you use older foods first.
Can you eat frozen meat after 12 months?
According to the FDA, The Food and Drug Administration, you can freeze cuts like roasts for 4 to 12 months and steaks for 6 to 12 months. Ground beef should only be frozen for three to four months, and once cooked, the meaty leftovers can be securely frozen.
Can you wash off the freezer burn?
To eat anything that has been frozen, make sure to first cut off any frozen-burned dry areas, especially if the meal is meat. Rinse the ice crystals away, then thaw the food as usual. The dish can then be prepared and eaten as instructed.
Should you throw out food with freezer burn?
Freezer burn can alter the flavor, texture, and color of food, yet it may not render it harmful to consume. Raw foods will taste particularly odd when they have been severely freezer-burned. The food should be thrown out if there is significant freezer burn so you can learn from your mistakes.