Vacuum packing is a packaging process that preserves food by creating a vacuum that removes the air before sealing, preventing the growth of micro-organisms. Food can then be stored for longer, though vacuum packing is not a substitute for refrigeration or freezing.
It is necessary to take adequate precautions when vacuum packing. Spoilage bacteria is less likely to grow with the removal of oxygen. However, pathogenic bacteria (which causes illness) may have opportunity to reproduce and the changes they make to the food may not be detectable by sight or smell. All vacuum packaged foods should be clearly labelled and dated to manage the preservation process.
Equipment is required for vacuum packing food. Domestic vacuum sealers to vacuum package food at home are available in Ireland at a cost of approximately €40. Periodically they are available from multiple stores, and can also be found online.
Keep the following food safety guidelines in mind when vacuum packing food:
- Wash your hands before and during the vacuum packing process
- Try not to touch food with your bare hands
- Keep all utensils, bags, and work surfaces clean
- Label each package
- Remember that foods which require refrigeration/freezing ordinarily, must also be kept in the fridge/freezer once vacuum packed