When you enter the food service industry, you will soon realize there is a lot to learn. Perhaps one of the most important things, though, is food safety. You want to serve only the best food to your customers, and you want their experience to be memorable for the right reasons.
With that in mind, you may be wondering whether it is safe to serve and eat freezer burned food. It may seem wasteful to chuck it out, but is it really the right thing to do? You may learn this by taking a food handlers course in Texas, but we’ll shed some light on the matter below.
What is Freezer Burn?
To understand what freezer burn looks like, what causes it, and how to prevent it, it’s helpful if you know what it is in the first place.
When you put food in the freezer, freezer burn can occur when water molecules within those food items form ice crystals. They will then move from the food to the coldest area of the freezer. Typically, it’s the sides. Because the food has lost water, it becomes dehydrated and looks far different from what it did when you first put the food in there.
What Does Freezer Burn Look Like?
If you’re going to take action with food that has been freezer burned, you’ll need to know what it looks like. There are plenty of visual signs to look out for, such as these below:
- Ice crystals on the food
- Vegetables appear slimy and/or dull
- Beef has gray or brown spots
- The food is in ripped packaging and exposed to the elements
What Causes Freezer Burn?
If you’ve noticed that only some of the food in your freezer sustained freezer burn, but not all of it, you may be wondering why. Many things can cause freezer burn.
One of the more common ones is food not being stored as it should be in the freezer. Appropriate food storage is something you learn when you study for your Texas food handlers permit. To prevent water molecules from escaping, you must make sure that all food is wrapped tightly.
However, storing your food in the freezer for too long can also be a common cause. Temperature control is a massive part of working in the food industry. You learn all about how long food can be stored for and at what temperature.
According to FoodSafety.gov, managed by the US Department of Health & Human Services, some items can be frozen for more extended periods than others.
For example, hot dogs, luncheon meat, sausages, and bacon, can be frozen at 0°F for 1-2 months, but ground meats, ground poultry, and hamburger meat can be frozen for twice as long at 3-4 months.
Even fresh beef, ham, fresh poultry, eggs, soup, stews, and leftovers have varying freezer lifespans of between one month and one year.
Finally, food in your freezer may be subjected to freezer burn if you have not maintained an appropriate freezing temperature. If your freezer fluctuates or has a broken thermostat, your food may be more at risk than in a fully functional freezer.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn
There are many ways you can prevent freezer burn from happening. Always make sure you wrap food tightly and seal it. Make sure you let out excess air before sealing a bag tightly.
You should also always let hot food cool down before you freeze it and label it with a name and date to know when you should use it. Make sure your freezer is operating at a consistent temperature of 0°F or below.
Is Freezer Burned Food Safe?
If you’ve decided to go ahead and defrost your food, only to notice that it doesn’t quite look right, you may be wondering whether your freezer burned food is safe to serve and eat.
While freezer burned food is not a food safety issue, it does present some quality issues. In many situations, it will have lost its taste and texture. Even though it’s safe, it won’t be earning you any rave reviews with your customers.
What’s more, there can be instances where freezer burned food is not safe to eat. It might have a slimy or dull texture, a strange smell, or it was frozen in a puddle of water. If the food doesn’t have any labels or dates, it may also pose a food poisoning risk.
Learn About Safe Food Storage and Handling With TABC Pronto
Whether you want to know how to stop your food from being freezer burned, or you’re entering the food service industry and require your permit, you’re in luck.
TABC Pronto offers fast, easy, and affordable Texas food handlers for just $6.99. Sign up today to become more informed about safe food handling practices.