Packaging or Repackaging Meat

Do I need to re-package meat before I freeze it?

It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its supermarket wrapping, but this type of package is permeable to air. Oxygen in the air can hasten both the chemical breakdown and microbial spoilage of many foods. Use the meat within approximately two months, or overwrap the package with airtight heavy-duty foil, freezer wrap, or a freezer zip-lock bag. For long-term freezing, overwrap the porous store plastic with aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer-weight plastic wrap or bags to prevent "freezer burn." Be sure to seal the secondary packaging well to keep air out and moisture in. Freezer burn occurs when the surface of meat becomes dehydrated then the fat oxidizes. The result is dry, grey spots on meat that has an off-flavor. Vacuum packaging with home vacuum packagers is also a good choice for reducing freezer burn.

Here are some Tips for Packaging Meat for Freezing.

  • When repackaging, remove as many bones as possible. They take up freezer space and add air spaces where oxidation can occur.
  • Place two layers of freezer paper or wrap between slices or patties of meat so they are easier to separate when frozen.
  • Freezer containers can be used for ground beef, stew beef or others meats frozen into small portions.
  • Remember, plastic wrap, foam meat trays, and convenience food dishes are one-time-use packaging.