Freezing is the best way to store food for a long period of time. People freeze all kinds of food – from meat and dairy to fruits and vegetables. If you have ever tried to freeze something, you must have wondered, which container to use for storing each particular product. For example, can you freeze plastic containers? Many of us prefer plastic containers for their affordability, versatility, and ease of use. But is it the best way to freeze food? Let’s find that out.
Is it Safe to Freeze Food in Plastic Containers?
The abundance of different kinds of plastic does not allow us to answer this question unequivocally. Some plastics, such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polycarbonate (PC) contain additives that are bad for our health. They should never be used to store food in any state. Others, including Polyethylene and Polypropylene, are safe, but that does not necessarily mean you can store food in such containers in a freezer.
The thing is, some plastics are intended only for a single-time use (marked with a recycling code 1). A water bottle is a classic example. Ever wondered why bottled water has an expiration date? Not because water can “go bad”, but because it can be stored in plastic only for a limited time. Plastic consists of many components. With time and under the force of external factors (such as heat) it starts to break down and release its particles into the substance that is stored inside. The longer the food or water is stored in plastic, the more micro-plastic particles it absorbs. Even if a container does not include BPA or phthalates, consuming plastic with our food is obviously not healthy.
Safe Plastic Numbers Chart
|Type of plastic||Abbreviation||Code number||Food safety|
|Polyvinyl Chloride||PVC||3||Not safe|
If you choose plastic containers for freezing food, you should choose the ones that are labeled “freezer-safe” (exact words may vary). Safe plastic containers for freezing products are tested and approved by the FDA. Such containers are the least likely to release undesirable substances into your food and can withstand dramatic changes of temperature. Other plastics, that are not freezer-safe, might destroy under the low temperature. This destruction might not be visible to the naked eye, but it certainly can have an impact on our health.
Only an airtight freezer container can protect your food from freezer burn, and bad odors. Besides, a container must be moisture and vapor resistant, to avoid frost from accumulating all over your food.
You should never freeze food and drinks in PET bottles, take-out containers and other plastic containers designed for one-time use. As tempting as it might be to reuse them, your best choice will be to recycle. Instead, you can use special freezer containers for liquids.
Is freezing water bottles bad for you?
The exact impact of consuming liquids that have been frozen in plastic bottles is yet understudied. It is known for a fact that we consume some amount of plastic with such liquids, but how much exactly and how bad it is for our health – that we do not know. It is always better to avoid the risk and use appropriate freezing containers.
Is it safe to freeze food in plastic bags?
The same rules that were outlined above apply to plastic bags as well. Regular storage bags are not acceptable. They cannot provide proper sealing and may also release micro-plastic. You should use only dedicated freezer bags. In this case, you will ensure food safety and maintain its nutritional value and taste.
Can you freeze Tupperware?
Tupperware containers are very popular among American families. They are convenient to store food and liquids, easy to wash and come in a wide range of sizes. However, if you want to freeze meals in your Tupperware, you should look for specific labeling. Freezer-safe plastic containers are marked with a snowflake symbol.
Can you freeze glass containers?
Glass containers are better than plastic ones in all respects. When it comes to freezing food, glass is also a preferable choice. However, not all glass containers are suitable for freezing – regular glass can simply break. You should buy special containers made of low-temperature resistant glass.
How to Choose a Proper Freezing Container for Food?
There are several specific characteristics, which make a container suitable for freezing food. Whether it is made of plastic, glass or ceramics, a container must be:
- Tolerant to sub-zero temperatures.
- Moisture- and vapor-resistant.
- Perfectly sealable.
- Water- and oil-resistant.
- Resistant to odors.
- Free from harmful components.
Besides that, good freezing containers for food should also be:
- Transparent or semi-transparent (so that you can easily see what is inside).
- Easy to close and open.
- Compact and stackable (to optimize storage space).
- Easy to wash.
- Durable, scratch-resistant and shatterproof.
General Food Safety Regulations
No matter what type of container you choose for freezing food, you should follow some general rules to ensure food safety:
- Always label containers and bags that go into a freezer. Once frozen, food and liquids can change their color and shape, so with time, it might be hard to tell one product from another. Most importantly, you must put down a date when you put a container in a freezer. Each type of food has its own expiry date, even if frozen. Make sure you keep track of each product and throw it away in case it is past its expiry date. How long can you freeze ham before it goes bad? How long can you keep berries in a freezer? Google will provide the answers to these and many other questions.
- It is preferable to thaw food in a refrigerator. That will take longer, but in that case, your food will never go bad.
- Try to avoid freezing meat, fish, and dairy in the same freezer with fruits, vegetables, ice-cream, and other ready-to-eat foods. At least, dedicate a separate shelf to each type of products.
- Do not freeze food and liquids in large batches (unless you are planning to consume it all at once). Multiple cycles of freezing and defrosting can cause deterioration of nutritional value and taste.
In general, plastic containers can be used for freezing, as long as you choose proper ones. A good-quality plastic freezer-safe container is certainly better than disposable freezing containers, paper bags or plastic bottles. Just choose wisely and always put your health and safety first.