Reusing Ziploc Freezer Bags

I need to know why you can't reuse freezer bags after you used them to freeze meat. My wife will wash them out and reuse to freeze meat again. Help me with this answer. Thank you.

By Rick F. from Central FL

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August 4, 20110 found this helpful

I wouldn't reuse freezer bags a second time to freeze meat, even though they

have been washed. I think most of us have read about the ground turkey salmonella outbreak. I don't think that you can sanitize the freezer bag thoroughly enough to use a second time.

You can buy off brand freezer bags cheap enough at the dollar stores, and they cost less than Ziploc.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

Washing Plastic Bags

Plastic bags that have stored most foods can be turned inside out, washed and dried in a dish rack. This isn't true for bags that have contained raw meat. Unless you wash the bags in water hotter than 165 degrees Fahrenheit or use bleach, harmful bacteria may still be present. The bag may have hard-to-reach areas, like the grooves of a plastic storage bag, that are hard to wash.

Harmful Bacteria

The bacteria that remain on a bag that has contained raw meat are extremely harmful. Salmonella, the most common source of food-borne illness, causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. This harmful bacteria lives in raw meat and can contaminate other foods if raw meat juices come into contact with them. This is why storing salad or even crackers in a bag that has contained meat is a bad idea. E. coli, another harmful bacteria, is another contaminant that could be present.

Cooking Doesn't Kill all Bacteria

You might think that it's OK to store meat in a bag that has already contained raw meat, believing that once the meat is cooked all bacteria will be killed. However, cooking temperatures are not always high enough to kill all bacteria, especially if the meat isn't cooked perfectly well-done. To avoid the risk of illness, it's best not to store any food in plastic bags that have contained meat.

Reusing Bags for Other Purposes

While it isn't safe to store food in bags that have contained meat, they can be used for other purposes. They can be used to dispose of kitty litter or to pick up after your dog in the yard. If it's snowing outside, you can put them on the side mirrors and windshield wipers of your car at night to make scraping easier in the morning. Always remember to wash your hands after handling them.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

What I do to economize on freezer bags is to package the raw meat in the quantities we will use in inexpensive sandwich (zipper) bags. I make sure to squeeze all air out. Then, I pack the smaller bags into a gallon size freezer bag. The second (outer) bag adds extra protection, and I can quickly take out the quantity I need, and set the smaller bag on a plate to catch any potential drips. If the pieces of meat won't fit in a sandwich bag, I wrap them in plastic wrap, then put in a freezer bag. If the bag in the freezer is still in good shape, I may add more sandwich bags of raw meat.

But I have to agree with the other posts that re-using bags that raw meat has been in contact with is not worth the risk. One visit to the doctor can erase all savings in a hurry! I will re-use bags that have had bread/rolls, cookies, raw veggies and such in them, but not cooked or raw meats. If she is averse to using a new bag each time, she should purchase re-useable freezer containers that can be thoroughly washed and dried.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

I do the same thing as Jilson. If your meat is wrapped in something first, be it a plastic sandwich bag or plastic wrap, it really does not come into contact with the outer bag. It also, as she says give extra protection. Many times I will buy 10 pounds of ground beef and freeze it in 1 pound bags. This works great to freeze it in this manner. I don't reuse any bags that have come in contact with the meat either.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

My guess is that if she doesn't know by now she isn't going to learn why. Anything that comes in contact with raw meat that can't be thourally washed, like a plate, needs to be thrown away because bacteria are there and freezing doesn't kill it. Does she really need the two cents she saves?

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Anonymous Flag
August 5, 20110 found this helpful

Plastics of any sort absorb meat bacteria such as salmonella and e-coli and that's why it's not even safe to reuse the styrofoam meat trays for food. And I wouldn't recommend even cleaning meat touched plastics with bleach and then reusing for food because the bleach will absorb into the plastic and then will leach into your food.

Perhaps your wife could go ahead and save a couple of pennies by washing and drying them but then reuse them only to store non-food items such as ribbon and bows, craft supplies, things like nails and screws, gardening supplies or even use for picking up doggie poopie if you walk your dog and if you don't walk your dog donate them to a neighbor who does. There are oodles of other uses for them that are safe. Reuse them for anything other than food because risking your health and life is not worth saving some money.

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August 5, 20110 found this helpful

I've thought about the fact that each time I use hot water, soap and my time to wash out and dry a plastic bag, I probably could have bought another bag.

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August 6, 20110 found this helpful

Using bags from the dollar store is not such a great idea either. Where do these products come from? If you use these products next to your food who knows? Better to use the brands you trust. You can't put a price on on keeping your family safe.

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August 6, 20110 found this helpful

I have heard you should'nt reuse them too. But I also wash them real good and reuse. Been doing this for years and am still alive and well.

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Anonymous Flag
August 7, 20110 found this helpful

Just wanted to add to Summerofsunshine51's comment. I ask, "Why tempt fate?" This isn't a food analogy I am sharing here but an analogy of general dangers we should all heed just the same.

I have a friend who wouldn't listen to me about the dangers of mixing chlorine bleach with liquid dish soap because she had done it her entire life and it had never hurt her so she was just going to keep doing it. Then one day she could barely breathe because of the resulting chlorine gas and had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully she ended up being okay but she doesn't mix them together anymore.

Taking risks when it comes to salmonella and e-coli bacteria from raw meats is no different.

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