Food Safety Issues/safetyofmeat


after power failure vacuum sealed meats were still cold,are they safe to refreeze and eat?

Hi Wayne,

My heart goes out to you and your family dealing with the consequences of Hurricane Sandy. I know some people are still without power and with a new storm headed your way it's like adding insult to injury.  I hope you fare well through this latest weather upheaval.

Now on to your question.  If the meats still had any signs of ice crystals they are safe to refreeze and eat.  Ice crystals indicate that the internal temperature of the meat did not go above refrigerator temperature, or roughly 40 degrees F.

True vacuum sealing does improve the shelf life of frozen foods since air is the enemy when you are freezing foods.  However, vacuum sealing does not make a potentially hazardous food (phf) -- a food capable of supporting the growth of harmful bacteria -- safer, just because most or all of the air has been removed.  If vacuum sealing made phf foods safe at room temperature then we wouldn't have to worry about whether the food stayed cold.  But we do, so looking for ice crystals in the meat is our best indicator that the meat is still safe to refreeze and consume.

Here's hoping your meat met this criteria.  If not, the safest thing to do is to pitch the meat.  

Unfortunately, you can't tell by sight, smell or taste if food that has been temperature abused is still safe to consume as some bacteria can multiply, even in an anaerobic environment.   While multiplying, bacteria leave a waste product and sometimes this waste product can make you ill.  Cooking the meat would destroy any live bacteria, but the waste product is not destroyed by cooking, thus cooking does not automatically make a temperature abused phf food safe to consume.

Best wishes from the Midwest for a speedy recovery.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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