Food Lifeline receives donated frozen fish products that have been vacuum-packed, which are then made available to agencies through online ordering. Additionally, your agency may be receiving vacuum-packed fish from retail pickups or other sources in your community. If you are using these products in your meal preparation or distribute them directly to clients please be aware of the following precaution about thawing vacuum-packed fish.
According to Michigan State University Extension scientists, packages of vacuum-packed fish should be opened before thawing. Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes can survive in reduced-oxygen packaging and grow once the temperatures rise above 38°F. To prevent this, the fish should be kept frozen until ready to use, or the package should be opened and the fish allowed to thaw in the refrigerator.
Kitchen staff at meal programs should be aware of this when preparing vacuum-packed fish. Food pantries, please pass this information along to clients receiving vacuum-packed fish from your facility.