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Why Does Meat Turn Brown In The Freezer

Why Does Meat Turn Brown In The Freezer? Resolved (2023)

Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Shari Mason

Meat is a staple in many households and can be a great source of protein, but it’s important to know how to store it properly to prevent it from going bad.

One of the most common issues with storing meat in the freezer is that it can turn brown. 

Let’s see why meat turns brown in the freezer and provide tips on preventing it. Read on.

What Causes Meat To Turn Brown In The Freezer?

meat on a wooden table

Meat can turn brown in the freezer due to a process called oxidation [1]. This occurs when the meat is exposed to oxygen, which causes the meat’s pigments to break down and change color. 

The discoloration is caused by the breakdown of the pigments in the meat, specifically the myoglobin,, which is responsible for the red color of fresh meat.

Oxygen exposure can also cause the formation of other pigments that can give a brown color. 

This process can happen in the packaging. If the meat is not properly wrapped or sealed, it can be exposed to air, which can cause freezer burn and discoloration.

Another cause of meat turning brown in the freezer is freezer burn. Freezer burn occurs when the meat is exposed to air in the freezer. This causes the surface of the meat to dry out and become discolored. 

Freezer burn can affect the taste and texture of the meat, making it less desirable to eat. It is caused by the sublimation of ice crystals from frozen food due to low humidity in the freezer.

This process can create a dry and hard surface on the meat.

How Can You Prevent Meat From Turning Brown In The Freezer?

To prevent the meat from turning brown in the freezer, it’s important to properly wrap and seal it to prevent it from being exposed to air.

This can be done by using plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or freezer bags, pushing out as much air as possible before sealing. 

Vacuum sealing or using a vacuum sealer can also be a great way to prevent freezer burn, as it removes the air from the package and creates an airtight seal. 

Additionally, it’s important to store meat in the coldest part of the freezer, typically the back or bottom, as this will help slow the oxidation process and keep the meat fresh for a longer period. 

It’s also important to date the packaging and uses the oldest meat to ensure you are eating the freshest product.

Is Brown Meat Still Safe To Eat?

slicing a meat

Meat that has turned brown in the freezer due to freezer burn or oxidation is still safe, but the taste and texture may be affected.

Freezer burn [2] can cause the meat to become dry and tough, while oxidation can cause a change in taste and smell. 

However, it’s important always to use proper food safety guidelines when handling and storing meat, including checking for any signs of spoilage such as bad odor, slimy texture, or mold.

If the meat shows any of these signs, it should be discarded. 

It’s also important to note that even if the meat appears safe to eat, it may have been stored for too long and, therefore, should be cooked thoroughly before consumption.

How Long Can You Store Meat In The Freezer?

Beef and pork can be stored for up to 6 months, while chicken and turkey can be stored for up to 9 months. 

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the actual storage time may vary depending on the quality of the meat and how it was packaged and stored before freezing. 

“Everything tastes better with butter. Meat that has fat in it is tender in a certain way, flavorful in a certain way. It’s hard to deny the flavor quotient there.’

– Alice Waters, American Chef

Ground meat and meat that has been cooked have a shorter shelf life than steaks and roasts.

Proper packaging and storing, such as vacuum sealing or using airtight freezer bags and keeping the freezer at the right temperature, can help extend the meat’s shelf life. 

It’s always important to date the packaging and uses the oldest meat to ensure you are eating the freshest product.

FAQs

Can meat turn bad in the freezer?

Yes, meat can turn bad in the freezer if it is not stored properly or if it has been stored for too long.

Freezer burn, which occurs when the meat is exposed to air in the freezer, can cause the surface of the meat to dry out and affect the taste and texture of the meat. 

Can you get sick of freezer-burned meat?

Freezer burn does not make meat unsafe to eat, but it can affect the taste and texture of the meat. The meat may have a dry, tough, or rubbery texture and an off-flavor.

If the meat has been burned in the freezer, it is best to trim the affected areas before cooking. If the meat has a strong off-odor or appears spoiled, it should not be consumed.

Final Thoughts

The meat turns brown in the freezer due to a process known as oxidation. This occurs when the meat is exposed to oxygen, which causes the iron molecules in the meat’s hemoglobin to react and change color. 

This process does not make the meat unsafe to eat, but it can affect the taste and texture of the meat. It is important to properly store and package meat to prevent freezer burn and oxidation. 

Additionally, it is important to be aware that other factors, such as bacteria, can make meat unsafe to eat, even if it does not have a freezer burn.

Always check for other signs of spoilage before consuming frozen meat or any other perishable food.

References:

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-oxidation-in-chemistry-605456
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/freezer-burn
Shari Mason

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