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I bought some frozen shrimp on sale but didn't notice that there was a lot of ice build-up on the shrimp (and in the bottom of the package) until I got home.

Does this indicate that the shrimp has thawed and been refrozen, or is this build-up just an indicator that the food has been in a freezer for a long time?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is how shrimp is frozen for transit and sale. The packaging should have a weight that includes the ice aswell as the shrimp, and a weight that is shrimp only weight: The weight after they have completely thawed.

There will also be a size grading. No of shrimp per lb or per KG based on whether they are HOSO Head On Shell On HLSO Headless Shell On or Peeled Break down here

The ice coating prevents freezer burn to the shrimp, so they'll be juicy when you defrost them rather than dry and hard! If the have freezer burn they'll be a opaque white discolouration on the surface. They're still OK eat like this - they're desecated / dried - they're just really tough.

Having said all this I am assuming that the packaging they're in in undamaged, before I say that they should be fine!

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This is OK to eat. Ice buildup on frozen food happens through a normal process. It is not a sign of bad handling. The food has probably spent longish time in cold storage, but out is still safe. The taste should also be ok or only minimally changed, but certainly worth eating.

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