This Viral TikTok Hack Vacuum Packs Food in Seconds—but Is It Safe?

And does it even work?

We may only be a few weeks into 2022, but TikTok is already delivering a fresh crop of useful kitchen and food hacks. The latest trick making the rounds on the social media platform involves a quick and easy way to vacuum-pack food without any gizmos or gadgets. As meal prep fans know, vacuum-packing food (which is meant to prevent contact with oxygen) is a great way to keep food fresh for a longer period of time, and is very helpful if you're looking to save space in your refrigerator or freezer.

The brief clip, shared by TikTok user @staceybdixon, has garnered nearly 2 million views in a matter of days, along with hundreds of comments from other TikTok users eager to give this hack a try. "I learned this trick today," Stacey says as she closes a plastic freezer bag filled with raw meat. "You close [the plastic bag] mostly, and you take a big bowl of water and you put [the bag] in."

As Stacey is narrating, she takes her bag filled with meat, submerges all but the top quarter in a large bowl of water resting in her sink, and uses her hands to squeeze any remaining air out of the bag. "The water gets all the air out, then you seal it, and it's vacuum-packed!"

She then removes the bag of meat from the water, uses a dish towel to dry it and flatten the meat, and continues to squeeze any remaining air out. The result is a fully sealed, practically flat bag of meat that's easy to fit in a crowded freezer.

I tried this trick with some chicken, and was somewhat surprised to find that it worked just as well as it did on TikTok, however, I was nervous about using this as a way to preserve raw meat, which can carry harmful bacteria and can easily be contaminated. With that in mind, I reached out to a food safety expert to get some intel on this latest TikTok hack.

Frozen raspberries in a plastic bag with a fastener on a blue background.
Getty Images

So, while this clever trick will technically work to vacuum-seal everything from raw chicken or meat to a loaf of bread, you still need to be especially careful when storing or handling anything raw, even when vacuum-packing food. "Vacuum-sealing storage bags helps to remove oxygen from the bag, which can help reduce the growth of bacteria that spoils food," Sims adds. "However, it does not eliminate potential bacterial growth or the need for proper storage of perishable foods (raw or cooked) in a refrigerator or freezer." In other words, while vacuum-packing raw food isn't necessarily riskier so long as you make sure the bag has no holes, it also won't eliminate the risks normally associated with raw food.

Whether or not you plan to vacuum-seal your food, Sims recommends that you prepare fruits and vegetables before raw meat and poultry to avoid any unsafe cross-contamination, and notes that raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be kept away from other foods in your refrigerator. She also emphasizes the importance of a food thermometer when cooking with raw foods, and says storing these foods properly is key. "Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry and other perishables upon returning from the grocery store to slow the growth of harmful bacteria," she explains. "When thawing frozen foods, use the refrigerator, cold water, or the microwave."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles