FAQs on Food Wrapping

Can I refrigerate meat and poultry in its store wrapping?

That depends upon the type of packaging that was used. If the product was packaged in a way that protects it from oxygen, it should stay in the store wrapping for refrigeration; the wrapping will keep it fresh much longer than if you re-wrap it yourself. 


There are 3 types of pre-packaging used for fresh meat and poultry:


How should fruits be wrapped before refrigeration?

Unlike vegetables, fruits can be tightly wrapped because they are too acidic for the bacteria that cause botulism to grow on them.  However, for other reasons, some fruits should be only loosely wrapped. Fruits that “transpire” (give off) a lot of moisture (berries especially) are commonly store-wrapped in a manner that allows the moisture to escape. If fruits transpire moisture into an airtight atmosphere, bacteria (ones that don’t cause disease) will grow and make the fruit slimy. Also, some fruits produce large amounts of ethylene gas, which stimulates ripening.

Should I wrap raw vegetables loosely or tightly before refrigerating?

Some vegetables need to be wrapped to prevent dehydration.  Sometimes the advice that’s given is to wrap vegetables loosely or place them in a perforated bag to prevent the growth of spores that could cause botulism. (These are not killed by the usual cooking temperatures but any toxin that is formed would be killed by normal high heat treatments.)  Bean sprouts and root vegetables--such as carrots, turnips, potatoes, and onions—are most likely to be a problem.   However, the danger of contracting botulism from refrigerated raw vegetables is not great.

What produce needs to be wrapped before refrigerating?

Food scientist Dr. Clair Hicks offers this explanation: “Fresh fruit and vegetables have different respiration rates.  For example, asparagus and broccoli have high respiration rates, which requires that they be refrigerated (that slows the respiration rate) but that they be stored in breathable packaging.  Apples and citrus fruits have low respiration rates, and apples, cucumbers, and tomatoes are waxed to further slow respiration, so only refrigeration is required to enhance shelf life.

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