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Vacuum sealing food at home safely

Vacuum sealed peas.

There are machines available to vacuum seal food at home. They are called vacuum sealers and they remove air from the food package before sealing.

What are the benefits and risks of vacuum packing foods for storage?

The benefit of removing air from a food package is the increased storage time of refrigerated, dried and frozen foods. If air is not removed when food is put in a package or container, oxygen can cause fats to develop "bad" flavors and change the food's color.

The National Center for Food Preservation warns that there are risks with vacuum sealed food products. Some harmful bacteria that only grow in air-free setting can grow much better and faster in vacuum sealed products than if they were not vacuum sealed. Unlike bacteria that spoil food, disease-causing bacteria may not change the color or look of the food.

To avoid the risks related to vacuum sealed foods follow these safe food handling tips:

  • Vacuum sealing food does not replace the need to pressure-can or water-bath home canned foods.
  • Wash hands before and during the vacuum sealing process.
  • Try not to touch food with your hands. Use clean spoons, tongs or something else to handle the food.
  • Be sure to keep utensils, cutting boards and counters clean.
  • Keep vacuum sealed foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Dry food, like crackers and nuts, can be stored at room temperature.

Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator.

    Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator

    Reviewed in 2018

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