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I purchased vacuum-packed Flounder and the individual wrapped filets bear the following statement:

Must remove from packaging before thawing. Do not refreeze.

Now, "do not refreeze" is straightforward. We were taught in grade school, don't re-freeze meat or food poisoning can result.

Does "must remove from packaging before thawing" have a similarly health-oriented cause? Or is it simply less damaging to the filet to remove it from vacuum-packing while it's frozen? This advice is contrary to the simplicity and neatness of thawing the fish while it's still vacuum-packed.

My question is, is there a health-related reason not to thaw it while still in the vacuum-pack?

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    Do not re-freeze has been covered here before, there's no safety issue with refreezing as long as it's done within a short enough time.
    – GdD
    Jan 21 at 8:43
  • ...right...re-freezing is more about compromising texture.
    – moscafj
    Jan 21 at 12:02
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Typically the plastic used for vacuum packed food is polyethylene, which has a low melting point, depending on the plastic it could be as low as 110°C, or 230°F. Once it melts you have liquid plastic on your food with the nasty flavors and potential health concerns.

The big thing here is microwaving can very quickly cause the plastic to reach that temperature (actually it raises the food to that temperature which heats the plastic), but explaining the dos and don'ts is complex so they just make a blanket statement so they can't be blamed if something goes wrong. In reality you can safely thaw fish in the plastic using any method you want as long as you are careful not to reach that temperature. If you microwave thaw do it on low and check it often to make sure you aren't overheating it.

Regarding re-freezing I won't cover it here as there's already a very good question and answer on this site here. The short answer is refreezing can be done safely as long as it's within certain parameters.

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  • Thank you. For the record I thaw with a cool water bath, so it sounds like I'm in the clear!
    – gowenfawr
    Jan 22 at 18:23

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