How To Wrap Foods For Refrigeration

Here are some tips for wrapping foods for refrigeration:
  • When refrigerating pre-packaged raw meat, poultry, or fish, don’t remove it from its original packing.  Food scientist Susan Brewer, Ph.D., explains why:  “In the U.S., most meat in the retail case is packaged in ‘modified atmosphere packaging,’ which is high in carbon dioxide.  The purpose of the CO2 is to suppress microbial growth.  If you unwrap the meat, you lose this protection.  In addition, every time you handle the meat, it becomes contaminated by the air, hand, and contact surfaces. Leave it in its original packaging (unless you are breaking it down to freeze it, in which case, microorganisms won’t grow).“
  • Also keep raw chicken in its original pre-packaging for the same reasons given about meat.  
  • When you bring home meat, poultry, or fish that was wrapped in paper after you selected it, you can refrigerate it in that paper if it is tightly wrapped and taped up.   But if it’s loosely wrapped, it should be rewrapped.  Then, to be sure  that raw meat, poultry, and fish do not drip on (and contaminate) other products, place them in a shallow pan (not on a plate) on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. 
  • In general, refrigerated fruits and vegetables should be wrapped loosely. 
  • Don’t keep any type of vegetable in an air-tight container.  Vegetables have a pH level above 4.6, so they will support the growth of Clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism).   
  • Mushrooms should  be wrapped in a paper bag or punctured plastic bag.  (They’ll last longer if they get some air.) 
  • Cheese should be wrapped in oxygen-impermeable plastic, such as  Saranwrap® or Ziplock® bags, to keep the cheese from drying out and prevent it from absorbing other flavors and odors that might be present in the refrigerator.
  • Going fishing?  The fresh, whole fish you catch should be gutted and washed before refrigeration.



Susan Brewer, Ph.D,, University of Illinois, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

eHow: How to Do Just About Everything  “How to Store Fruit in a Refrigerator”

USDA Fact Sheets Safe Food Handling   Refrigeration and Food Safety

USDA Factsheet: “Molds on Food”

University of Hawaii and USDA factsheet: “Store it. Don’t Ignore it!”

USDA Handbook: “Kitchen Companion”

The Today show website: “Fridge Findings: Learn Where to Store your Food” (2006)

Brewer, M.S. and Chapman-Novakofski, K. 2006.  “Meat Safety for the Consumer,” University of Illinois Extension 


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