How Long Does Vacuum-sealed Meat Last?

Vacuum-sealed meat’s shelf life varies depending on various factors, such as the type of meat, storage conditions, and initial packaging quality. If you have any doubts about the safety or freshness of vacuum-sealed meat, scroll down for more information. 

How long does vacuum-sealed meat last?

The actual shelf life of vacuum-sealed meat varied based on the specific meat. Explore how long vacuum-sealed meat last categorized by meat type below:

  • Beef, Pork, and Lamb: Vacuum-sealed beef, pork, and lamb typically last 1 to 3 weeks in the fridge. It can vary depending on the initial freshness and the fridge’s temperature. At or below 40°F (4°C) is the ideal temperature to maintain its quality and safety. While in the freezer, it can last for 6 months to a year, or even longer, without deterioration in quality. 
  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey): Vacuum-sealed poultry typically lasts 1 to 2 days in the fridge because it is more perishable than beef, pork, or lamb. It can last 9 to 12 months when stored properly in the freezer.
  • Processed Meats: In the fridge, vacuum-sealed processed meats, such as sausages or deli meats, typically last about 1 to 2 weeks. While in the freezer, time will extend for about 1 to 2 months while maintaining good quality.

Can vacuum-sealed food go bad? 

Vacuum-sealed food can go bad under certain circumstances, they include: 

  • Improper vacuum sealing with leaks or punctures remains in the packaging causes air and contaminants to enter the package, increasing the risk of spoilage. 
  • Preserving vacuum-sealed food at inappropriate temperatures will speed up the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage.
  • Choose one that has poor quality or nearing its expiration date. Look for one with fresh and high-quality food when shopping. 
  • Contaminated food occurs before vacuum-sealing, or if bacteria are present in the packaging, food can spoil over time.

What food should and should not be vacuum-sealed? 

Food suitable for vacuum-sealed: 

  • Dry goods such as grains, rice, pasta, flour, and dried herbs: Vacuum-sealing helps keep moisture and pests in the package, preserving the quality of these products.
  • Fresh meats, poultry, and fish: By preventing exposure to oxygen and the growth of bacteria, vacuum-sealed meats help to extend their shelf life. 
  • Fruits and vegetables: Before sealing, you should blanch or partially cook them. This process helps preserve the texture, color, and flavor of fruits and vegetables.
  • Soups, stews, and sauces: Vacuum-sealing keeps them fresh for longer by minimizing air exposure and reducing spoilage risk.
  • Homemade or pre-packaged meals: Food can retain freshness, flavor, and texture by vacuum-sealing.

Foods not suitable for vacuum-sealing:

  • Fresh bread, cakes, pastries, and soft cookies: These items can change in texture and affect quality because the vacuum sealing technique compresses them. 
  • Mushrooms and garlic: These have a lot of moisture when vacuum sealing, creating an anaerobic environment that encourages the growth of harmful bacteria like botulism. 
  • Carbonated beverages: The high pressure within the container can cause an explosion or loss of carbonation.
  • Sharp-edged foods: Bones or hard shells can penetrate the vacuum-sealed package. 

FAQ relate to Vacuum-sealed

Does vacuum sealing prevent freezer burn?

Yes, vacuum sealing can prevent freezer burn. When frozen food is exposed to air, resulting in dehydration and oxidation, this phenomenon is freezer burn. Vacuum sealing eliminates oxygen exposure and its drying effects on the package, creating a tight seal that significantly reduces the risk of freezer burn.

Should I freeze meat before vacuum sealing?

Yes, you should freeze meat before vacuum sealing. Freezing the meat before vacuum sealing preserves its shape; the meat becomes firmer and will not get crushed or deformed during the vacuum sealing process. The frozen meat also creates a solid surface for better air removal and a more secure seal. 

Can mold grow in a vacuum-sealed bag of food?

With a properly vacuum-sealed package, mold growth is unlikely to occur. Mold needs oxygen to grow; vacuum sealing significantly eliminates oxygen in the package. The vacuum sealing forms an airtight environment without air, inhibiting mold growth and other spoilage bacteria. 

How to tell if vacuum-sealed meat is bad

There are some signs to look out for whether your vacuum-sealed meat is still good or has gone bad:

  • Changes in color or texture, the meat has discolored, dark spots, or feels slimy or mushy when touched.
  • The meat emits a sour smell, which might indicate bacterial growth and spoilage. 
  • If you notice the meat has a slimy or excessively dry texture, it’s time to discard it. 
  • The meat exceeds its recommended storage time or expiration date.

Above is everything you need to know about the shelf life of vacuum-sealed meat. Consider some tips to extend longer time storage, like storing them in proper condition in the fridge or freezer and labeling the packages with the date of freezing to keep track of the storage time. It’s best to follow the specific recommendations given by the meat manufacturer.