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Nov 9, 2009 07:13 PM

Why Can We Not Reuse Freezer Bags Used for Raw Meats or Seafood?

I couldn't find any educated or informed answers googling. Comments just say they wouldn't reuse freezer bags that had raw meats in them but no reason why.

Does cooking not kill any potentially dangerous bacteria?

Do people do it out of habit? like how they peel carrots for cosmetic reasons?

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  1. Not a scientist, so cannot really comment intelligently on the bacteria issue (although I would surmise that neither freezing nor cooking will kill all bacteria, but that's just a guess).

    The reason I don't reuse freezer bags, or actually swap freezer bags from beef to fish is because of the smell or odor. Even frozen meats will impart their own scent and I wouldn't want my tuna end up with a nice smoky steak flavor.

      1. re: irishnyc

        I disagree, plain and simple. You're failing to re-use a piece of plastic that can't practicably be recycled by individuals. At least not here in NYC.

        Why risk contributing more than we really can't avoid to the Texas-sized rafts of plastic that rotate in ocean gyres?

        The baked-in assumptions, institutional and individual, that result in those vast rafts of waste -- THAT'S what's disgusting!

      2. I guess I don't understand the question. What does cooking have to do with it? I reuse freezer bags, after washing in soap and hot water. I reuse all kinds of heavy duty bags that way, whether they had raw or cooked meat in them. Actually, when I think about it, I usually wrap whatever it is in plastic wrap before putting it into the freezer bag, anyway. So, probably there is little contact with the bag itself. Regarding the original thesis: Why would there be any bacteria involved if the bag was washed and dried?

        1 Reply
        1. re: MazDee

          When the OP talks about cooking killing potential dangerous bacteria, I think she is referring to any bacteria left in the bag that contaminates the second round of meat stored in the bag. The OP is asking if such bacteria on the second round of meat will be killed when it's cooked.

        2. I do it all the time and have never had a problem. I wash out my bags, just as I would a dish. When growing up, my aunt, who lived through the Depression, never bought baggies, plastic wrap, etc., but always reused milk bags, cutting the tops off and washing them. Now that was milk, but washing is washing.

          Bags have corners, and they can be hard to clean, but I turn the bag inside out, if necessary.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Full tummy

            Same here; do it all the time. I have a little drying track so I can thoroughly dry the bags before storing/reusing them. I buy bulk meat at costco and repack into freezer bags.

            I do throw the bags away if I have added marinade that is particularly smelly or hard to clean.

            1. re: tcamp

              A special drying rack just for this purpose? Or something you rigged up? I have so little space in my kitchen, but I find places to dry them...

              1. re: Full tummy

                Sort of an impulse buy at a 'green goods' expo: Before that I hung them all over and really irritated my spouse.


                1. re: tcamp

                  A cute and simple design. Mine is often my cooking utensil holder. Looks very similar, except the base is an earthenware holder, and the bags are hanging over the utensils. Luckily, my husband puts up with the bags, though he would most certainly just toss them, if it was up to him...

                  1. re: tcamp

                    I use chopsticks in a jar to replicate the same function. I suppose you could fill the jar with sand if you wanted to keep the chopsticks spaced evenly and weigh the jar down more, but I don't.

              2. re: Full tummy

                Same here, my first thought was "we can't?"

              3. I keep meat in its original packaging (butcher paper or plastic, depending on where it is purchased) when I place it in the freezer bag. I'll use the same bag several times until it starts looking ratty. I'm too lazy to wash bags, but that's a great idea!

                If I placed unwrapped raw meat in a freezer bag, I would be most concerned about ground meat. That's because when shaping it, say, into patties or a meatloaf, the meat on the exterior gets pushed inside. The more the surface is contaminated, the more careful you have to be about cooking the meat thoroughly all the way to the center.