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Is Freezer-Burned Chicken Safe To Eat?

Freezer burn is a fascinating physical phenomenon. It is the result of sublimation, which is the process of water in the form of ice changing to a vapor, bypassing the liquid stage. Sublimation is what happens when you hang wet clothes out to dry in freezing weather. They will actually dry. Did you know that?

When it comes to frozen chickens (or any frozen food) sublimation (aka, freezer burn) happens when the chicken is not packaged tightly. Water molecules in the meat will gas off, then crystallize on the surface of the meat, or on the inside wall of the freezer.

Freezer burn dehydrates the meat. It is, essentially, uncontrolled freeze drying. The picture above is an excellent case history example of freezer burn in a chicken. Believe it or not, that was a plump, meaty homegrown chicken when we vacuum sealed it using our Foodsaver. But the seal failed, and dehydration by sublimation ensued.

As gruesome and unappetizing as it looks, that severely freezer burned bird was still edible. I don't know that from experience, because we threw that chicken out. But, According To The USDA, freezer-burned food is safe to eat (once cooked, of course). The flavor and texture will surely be compromised, but you won't get sick.

That's good to know, but the big takeaway here is the importance of freezer burn prevention. A tight package, with as much air excluded as possible, results in less opportunity for freezer burn. And that's why we love (and sell) poultry shrink bags. We have kept our shrink-bagged poultry in the freezer for well over a year with no evidence of freezer burn. Our poultry shrink bags are amazing. Check out our web site at

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some tight, well-protected packages of frozen poultry in our shrink bags...

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