Key Concepts

  • Vacuum packaging is a food packaging process known as 'Reduced Oxygen Packaging' or ROP-food in a package with less oxygen than normal.
  • Advantages include extended shelf life, color retention, less shrinkage and moisture loss.
  • Risks include bacteria that grow without oxygen including Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes .
  • Retail Food Code regulations limit the types of food that can be vacuum packaged.
  • Temperature, types of food packaged, shelf life and sanitation are the four primary controls to prevent bacteria growth.
  • A HACCP plan is required when using any reduced oxygen packaging method.

Learning Objectives

After this training food handlers will be able to:

  • Understand the advantages and risks of vacuum-packaged foods.
  • Know what particular group of bacteria presents the greatest risk in vacuum-packaged foods and why.
  • Understand how the food safety hazards are controlled.
  • Explain the reason retailers use a shelf life for vacuum-packaged foods of no longer than 14 days while USDA manufacturers often use 30-45 days.
  • Define back flushing. Give an example when back flushing would be used.
  • Know the labeling requirements for retail vacuum-packaged foods.

Training Tools

Note: Minnesota Food Code regulations are cited in this guide. Refer to your regulatory authority.