Meat Freezer Burn: Is It Really Harmful?

There was still a steak in the freezer – but now it has strange stains. Freezer burn on meat is rarely a cause for concern. You can find out here how this happens, whether the meat is still digestible and how it can be avoided!

Freezer burn on meat

The word freezer burn – consists of two parts of the word that are actually mutually exclusive: frost and fire. As impossible as it sounds, that’s exactly what happens when freezer burn occurs: the affected areas are deprived of oxygen, like a fire.
The unsightly white-grey or even black discoloration occurs as soon as the frozen meat comes into contact with fresh air in places. This happens when there are temperature fluctuations. A rise in temperature causes water to evaporate, which then freezes again when the temperature drops again and the meat dries out in that place.

Harmless, but inedible

In principle, the process is not harmful to health, and no new germs are formed as a result. But it doesn’t look pretty, nor is it beneficial to the taste. You can also cook your steak with the spots, but it won’t be very tasty then. When defrosting, the meat can no longer absorb water and remains dry. The dehydration ensures the destruction of fat and proteins, which are crucial for the taste. As a result, the meat tends to be tough. Digestibility is also negatively affected since not all ingredients are properly utilized by your body.

Note: If you still want to cook your meat despite freezer burn, you can simply cut away the affected areas after defrosting and then cook the rest as usual.

The right cold chain

While it’s safe to eat, not every steak with burn marks should be eaten. If any spots of varying intensity are visible, this indicates multiple interruptions of the cold chain. Then you shouldn’t enjoy it anymore. German food law stipulates an uninterrupted cold chain of at least -18 °C in order to prevent the development of processes that are harmful to health.

Avoid freezer burn on meat

Prevention is the best way to a delicious steak. Heed the following tips to avoid the formation of dry layers:

  • Rarely open the refrigerator compartment – and if so, then briefly!
  • Pack wisely: When shopping, put frozen goods next to each other in the bag
  • Rarely rearrange the freezer – rearranging can lead to temperature fluctuations
  • Glaze meat before freezing
  • Pack in an airtight plastic container or freezer bag
  • Vacuum seal meat before freezing

To ensure that you do everything right with your meat in the future, we will explain how to freeze meat properly and whether you can freeze packaged minced meat.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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