What Is Freezer Burn?

There is nothing worse than getting a cut of meat out from the walk-in freezer during meal prep, only to find out that it has been covered in freezer burn spots. But what does freezer burn mean and why do they happen? 

Most likely, your food was not wrapped properly and tightly, so it enables water molecules to escape and seek a better location. Freezer burn is likely to happen for items that are stored in the freezer for too long. There is a limit to how long the food items should be stored in the freezer. Sooner or later, the water molecules will find their way out of the frozen food to a colder area in your freezer. 

The temperature of your freezer may have been above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezer burn will set in from fluctuating temperatures that are above 0. When water molecules escape from your frozen food, it is possible for oxygen molecules to make their way into the food and seep in. The oxygen molecules can dull the color of the food and modify the flavor of the frozen product. 

Food that has freezer burn is safe to eat, but the texture and taste may not be to your liking. It is important to take note that despite what it looks like, freezer-burned food is okay to consume. You are not going to make anyone sick or put anyone in danger of food poisoning, but there is a possibility that you may make them upset with a bad piece of meat. It is not about safety, but it is about quality. Here are the things that you should look for and consider when it comes to freezer burn, including three of the most harmful effects in restaurants and food service operations:

Texture And Flavor

Since the condition of the freezer burn is caused by dehydration and oxidation of food, you may notice that the affected food like vegetables and meat will appear dried out and shriveled. The loss of water during the whole process dries out the food, and it gives it a leather-like, dry texture. 

While freezer burned food is safe to eat, it is certainly has a negative effect on the taste and flavor. When you eat a cooked steak that underwent a freezer burn, it will taste dry and almost flavorless because of the loss of water molecules that has much of the food’s flavor. Freezer burned food is edible, but the taste can be described as unpleasant. 

Discoloration And Odor

The first thing that you will notice with the freezer-burned food is the discoloration. The red meat will typically turn gray or brown, while chicken meat will become darker. These spots usually result from form chemical changes in the food’s pigment that is caused by overexposure to air. 

The water molecules that are inside the food before going through sublimation, and they can go right from a solid-state to gas. Those air molecules still have the food odors, causing a distinct smell when the freezer door is opened. 


The ultimate result of freezer burn is food waste. Removing the affected portions of food is one solution, but a lot of restaurants and commercial kitchens will simply throw the entire chicken, steak, or vegetables away. That is basically throwing out profits with the garbage. Wasted food equates to wasted money, and inefficient equipment can be the reason. 

One of the best ways to prevent freezer burns is to make sure that the freezer is well-maintained. Local service providers like the commercial refrigeration repair in Riverside can help you check your unit and fix whatever needs to be fixed before it becomes a massive problem. With thorough cleaning and maintenance, you can lessen the chance of experiencing freezer burn.