Freezer burn is meat or fish with freezer burn still edible

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Dehydrated, straw-like and colorless – if meat in the freezer looks like this, it has freezer burn. Still edible or for the garbage can? Does this also affect other foods such as vegetables, fruit, ice cream?

Status: 12.05.2021 09:02 | Archive

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How does freezer burn

Freezer burn on frozen foods occurs when they come into contact with oxygen through a tear in the packaging or through improper packaging. Or, second possibility, when frozen food defrosts in between, i.e. is exposed to strong temperature fluctuations – for example during transport or by leaving the door of the domestic freezer open for too long. To prevent thawing during transport from the supermarket to your home, you should take an insulated or refrigerated bag with you when you go shopping, especially in the warmer months.

Another reason for temperature fluctuations can be a power failure or an improperly closed door on the refrigerator, with the result that the food becomes too warm and starts to thaw or defrost.

Freezer burn – watch out when shopping

Even in the supermarket, it can occasionally happen that the cold chain was interrupted and ice crystals formed on the frozen food. Unfortunately, it’s hard for consumers to tell unless the package is made of clear plastic. However, there is one hint: If, for example, the package with spinach leaves or raspberries sounds like a lot of "snow", the ice cream can be used, i.e. ice crystals in the package – it is better not to take them with you.

Seafood and fish are often offered "glazed" – that is This means that in order to protect the sensitive food from freezer burn, it is surrounded by a layer of water during freezing. This must be indicated on the package, as well as the drained weight of the food.

Freezer burn – dangerous

Not only meat and fish, almost all frozen foods such as vegetables, fruit or cooked dishes can get freezer burn. Even ice cream can develop freezer burn. Ice cream with freezer burn sounds strange, but it does happen. If ice crystals have formed on the ice cream, this can be an indication that the cold chain was interrupted at one point. In such cases, the ice cream may also have an unpleasant flabby, sticky consistency.

Vegetables can also get freezer burn

In most cases, the food becomes inedible because it no longer tastes good. With meat and fish, however, you have to look more closely and consider when and how long these sensitive foods were exposed to higher temperatures.

Freezer burn in meat and fish – can be dangerous

Freezer burn changes the texture and color of the food. Meat becomes light to grayish and vegetables get lighter spots. Another effect: the food simply no longer tastes good. Freezer burn of meat and fish can be harmful to health. Can, not must. In the event of a power failure lasting several hours or if the door of the freezer was accidentally left open for a long time, you should be very careful. Because: "Oxygen or the thawing effect can cause that germs, which were only in the deep sleep by the deep-freezing, multiply exponentially. It can go very quickly", says Daniela Krehl of the Bavarian Consumer Advice Center.

Freezer burn – how long does frozen meat last?

The length of storage in the freezer at home can also play a role. "All foods with a high protein content, such as sausage, meat and fish, can only be kept for around six months to a year, even when frozen. "Beef can be kept frozen for between 10 and 12 months, lean pork for up to eight months. Fatty pork should leave the freezer and be prepared after four months at the latest. Chicken meat can be kept for up to 10 months. Ground beef, with its high fat content, or raw pork sausages are more likely to last only four months, and raw shredded meat up to eight months", says nutritionist Daniela Krehl.

Freezer burn what to do

If meat has large areas of freezer burn and there have been known large temperature fluctuations, Daniela Krehl advises rather to dispose of the affected meat or fish.

"I wouldn’t experiment with products that contain a lot of protein, because we lack the senses to warn us about disease-causing germs in meat."

Daniela Krehl, Consumer Center Bavaria

Fruit with freezer burn is still good for making jam.

This is also true if the power has been out for a long time and it’s unclear how long the food has been without freezing. "For example, thawed frozen berries are still good for making jam, because everything is heated through. I would not take any chances with meat and fish", says Krehl.

Freezer burn – cut away meat

If you decide to cut away just a generous amount of freezer burn from a piece of meat that has freezer burn in only one small spot, take a close look at the meat. Smells funny? If not, the meat should still always be very well cooked.

Avoid freezer burn

Freezer burn can be avoided by freezing the food as tightly packed as possible. That means: The best way is a vacuum cleaner. If you don’t have one, you should freeze meat in freezer bags, if possible, because they are more stable and tear-resistant than ordinary plastic bags. Before freezing, carefully remove all air from the bag and close tightly with a clip or the supplied wire. If you freeze meat in a plastic box, you usually have air with it – in the case of meat and fish, a freezer bag is better. Berries, for example, are placed individually on a tray and can be transferred to a plastic box when frozen.

Helps against freezer burn – open the door of the freezer compartment only briefly

Always label frozen food well: Then you don’t have to search for a long time with the door open and avoid temperature fluctuations for all frozen foods. Often used frozen food, such as chopped herbs, should always be stored in the same compartment above. Another advantage of a clearly visible label with the date and the name of the food is that you know exactly when, for example, frozen meat has to be consumed.

Putting frozen food back in the freezer? Answers to the question of whether it is possible to refreeze thawed out. Sometimes it’s a good idea to freeze food in portions – this info, and also how to freeze ground beef.

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