All packaging materials in direct contact with food must be safe for their intended use under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Meat and poultry products may not be packaged in a container that is composed of any substances that may adulterate the contents or be injurious to health. (In other words, garbage bags cannot be used.) Only FDA approved food grade packaging is allowed. It is the farmer’s responsibility to see that approved packing materials are used.
Proper wrapping and rapid freezing contribute to a longer lasting quality product. The goal is to prevent moisture loss from the meat (freezer burn) and keep air out. Packaging options for meat cuts include: Freezer paper, tray wraps, plastic wraps, barrier films and meat trays, and shrink bags, which are not vacuumed, are acceptable. Cryovac packaging (also known as reduced oxygen packaging), is allowed if certain conditions are met. (See below)
Vacuum packaging reduces the amount of air from a package and hermetically seals the package so that a near-perfect vacuum remains inside. This is also known as modified atmospheric packaging. Only USDA processors and 20-c retail food-stores are licensed to vac-pac. Any facility in New York that is using reduced oxygen packaging must have a HACCP plan in place for this activity.