How Long Does Meat Last in the Refrigerator?

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proper-meat-storage

What would we do without our refrigerators? When it comes to appliances that keep our foods safe, the refrigerator may be the most important because it slows down the growth of bacteria that cause food poisoning. At temperatures between 40 and 140°F, bacteria grows most rapidly. That’s why we call this temperature range “the Danger Zone.”

A refrigerator set to 40°F or below will protect most foods – but not forever. The cool temperatures slow down bacterial growth but they don’t stop the growth completely. So, it’s important to use food in a timely fashion to help maintain freshness and quality. Over time, even chilled foods will spoil.

Here are some basic guidelines for storing meat in the refrigerator.

  • Raw ground meats, all poultry, seafood, and variety meats: Refrigerate 1 to 2 days.
  • Raw roasts, steaks, and chops (beef, veal, lamb, and pork):  Refrigerate 3 to 5 days.
  • Cooked meat, poultry, and seafood: Store in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.

This chart lists storage times for all sorts of meats and meat products:

Category Food Refrigerator
(40°F or below)
Freezer
(0°F or below)
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, tuna & macaroni salads 3 to 5 days Does not freeze well
Hot dogs opened package 1 week 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Luncheon meat opened package or deli sliced 3 to 5 days 1 to 2 months
unopened package 2 weeks 1 to 2 months
Bacon & Sausage Bacon 7 days 1 month
Sausage, raw — from chicken, turkey, pork, beef 1 to 2 days 1 to 2 months
Hamburger & Other Ground Meats Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, & mixtures of them 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb & Pork Steaks 3 to 5 days 6 to 12 months
Chops 3 to 5 days 4 to 6 months
Roasts 3 to 5 days 4 to 12 months
Fresh Poultry Chicken or turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year
Chicken or turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Soups & Stews Vegetable or meat added 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Leftovers Cooked meat or poultry 3 to 4 days 2 to 6 months
Chicken nuggets or patties 3 to 4 days 1 to 3 months
Pizza 3 to 4 days 1 to 2 months

This article reprinted from USDA FoodSafety.gov website

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