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Defrost frozen fish in original plastic packaging. Safe?

Why does my fozen salmon purchased from store in plastic wrapping warn AGAINST thawing in its original plastic wrap?

I've seen some packing that says remove from plastic, place on plate, and cover with plastic wrap.

What's the difference?

It's certainly much more convenient to just move it from freezer to fridge overnight, and open and cook the next day.

Is it dangerous to do so?

Thanks,
Mike

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  1. Does no one defrost frozen fish in the original plastic wrapping?

    1. I don't often buy frozen fish in plastic wrapping, but the few times I've had to defrost frozen wrapped fish, I always do it in the original wrapping. I've never heard of doing otherwise UNLESS one was planning of thawing in the microwave. There are plastic wraps that are not microwave safe.

      1. The 2 pound package of frozen shrimp I sometimes buy says to thaw the whole bag at once, in the packaging. I have a family of two, unless you count pets, so you better believe I've broken that little instruction. No one's gotten sick yet. I think sometimes these instructions are just so much legalese to protect the company, but often defy common practice as well as common sense.

        4 Replies
        1. re: amyzan

          Pls let me share my family method:
          (1) buy big package of frozen seafood is aok
          (2) when i get home usually the food is thawed already
          (3) if it is shrimps, i separate them into several piles with just about the right size for my family to cook in a single dish. Then i wrap eqch pile in plastic/aluminum wrap and put in the freezer until it's time to cook.
          (4) if it is whole fish, i cut it up into smaller pieces and wrap them individually just like i wrap the shrimps.

          For us, this preserve the freshness as much as we can while we dont get have to endure the not-so-nice feeling of having to eat too much of something at once.

          Cheers!

          1. re: Dolcin1

            I thought re-freezing is dangerous?

            1. re: mike2401

              as far as i know, refreezing defrosted frozen products is discouraged but i've never looked into the science of it.

              1. re: mike2401

                properly defrosted (i.e., in refrigerator or cooler) may not be dangerous, but changes in texture will occur

          2. The reason for the warning is that many people thaw their seafoods and meats in the microwave. Some types of plastic wrap and microwaves go together like fresh garlic in EVOO and room tempterature. Bad combo.

            If you are defrosting intelligently (in the fridge like most Chowhounds do), don't worry about the plastic wrap.

            1. I've always wondered about those warnings too. I almost always put the frozen fish, in its original wrapper, in the fridge.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mels

                when i compliantly followed directions and removed from plastic, and put on plate in fridge, it ended up in a pool of water, so i'm not sure it was any less water logged.

              2. I follow the instructions and take the fish out of the original packaging. I figure it'll be a little less waterlogged as it defrosts that way.

                1. I defrost in original packaging but make sure to put a plate under it. One time the plastic bag leaked and I can't begin to tell you what a PITA it was to get the fish smell out of my fridge.

                  1. There is a safety issue re: thawing in vacuum-sealed packaging. From orcabayseafoods.com:

                    "Our products are sealed in vacuum-packed pouches while still frozen. This prevents dehydration or “freezer burn”, and is most effective way to preserve quality. We go to great lengths to bring you the best seafood possible, as with any all-natural product there are bacteria that develop during the thaw process. The curious thing about seafood is that when in an anaerobic (airless) environment, there is a chance of the formation of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, also known as C-bot, a cause of food poisoning. By removing the packaging, you eliminate the risk of C-bot contamination. Just to be on the safe side, the FDA requires these guidelines for all vacuum-packed seafood. "

                    1 Reply
                    1. Interesting to read about the problem with thawing in the package.

                      When I eat frozen fish, I don't use the whole package at once. So I remove a few filets from the package, and place them on a cookie sheet, and set the cookie sheet inside of a pan. That way the filets don't sit in their own water.

                      Or I used to place the filets on paper towels to absorb the excess water from thawing, but now I like the cookie sheet method better.

                      1. The best way to thaw frozen fish. Remove from packaging. Place fish in a bowl with water and some ice. Add a pinch of salt and sugar. Takes around a hour to thaw.

                        1. Odd. I was always told to thaw it in cold water in the original wrapper, sometimes even in the instructions on said wrapper, and that's how I've always done it … and now I see I've been FLIRTING WITH DEATH?? Yikes!

                          Yes, I know you're really best off defrosting stuff in the fridge, but I'm usually wanting to eat it sometime this week, and I've had fish stay stubbornly solid for six or seven days. As for thawing in water out of the package, I've always thought it'd get overly waterlogged. Am I wrong about that?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            I saw Andreas Viestad ( New Scandinavian Cooking ) use this method. I tried it on some frozen haddock and it worked great. It wasn't waterlogged.

                          2. I often thaw in the fridge, in the original wrapping. So far I've not been harmed.

                            1. I've never seen that instruction on plastic-wrapped fish (for example from Trader Joe's) and don't understand what it's about. I keep the fish in the package, put it in a bowl, and run cold tap water over it until it's flexible. Works for me.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: John Francis

                                Look harder... I have seen this warning on the wild salmon at TJ

                              2. Products are sealed in vacuum-packed pouches while still frozen. This prevents dehydration or “freezer burn”, and is most effective way to preserve quality. The curious thing about seafood is that when in an anaerobic (airless) environment, there is a chance of the formation of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, also known as C-bot, a cause of food poisoning. By removing the packaging, you eliminate the risk of C-bot contamination. Just to be on the safe side, the FDA requires these guidelines for all vacuum-packed seafood.

                                1. It's all about the oxygen. In the vacuum pack, there is little to no oxygen. This allows the "botulism bacteria" to grow. They can't survive in the presence of oxygen (they are 'obligately anaerobic'), so even poking a little hole in the original wrapper (on the top, to avoid leaks of course) would eliminate this issue.

                                  Source: I am a microbiologist.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: gzahn

                                    How long does it take bacteria to grow? It takes an hour for the fish to defreeze in its original packaging that is immersed into water at room temperature. Is this enough time for bacteria to grow? Thanks!

                                    1. re: Abc12345

                                      how long . . .

                                      indeed, curious situation.

                                      if one goes to FDA/USDA/FSIS, etc. etc., they warn about making infused oils. because submerging herbs/garlic/etc. in oil makes for an anaerobic situation - which is required for botulism growth - they recommend keeping the oil in the fridge and using within two weeks.

                                      however, you now have a fish. assume it's contaminated with botulism spores, which have to reproduce to become 'dangerous'. refrigeration slows down the botulism, freezing slow down the botulism even more better, but thawing for X hours in the fridge is (?) dangerous?

                                      don't know about you, but the math does not work for me.

                                      1. re: Abc12345

                                        Great question... gzahn -- can you help?

                                    2. I don't recall ever seeing these warnings on fish packaging, but if I had to guess, perhaps the plastic is not heat safe. Certain types of plastic will leak out toxins when heated.

                                      Personally, I just thaw shrink wrapped fish by placing it in a bowl of warm water. In about 15 minutes it's thawed evenly. I don't like using a microwave to defrost.

                                      1. Gosh...who knew?? I always thawed in the package. Guess I have to change my ways.

                                        Frozen shrimp, I assume, is fine to thaw in the bag since it's not vacuum packed. As mentioned above, though, watch out for leaking. It's happened to me too - yuck. (Also happened to me with frozen veggies too...)