How long can meat stay out of the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long can meat stay out of the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of meat at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to spot bad meat and the health implications of eating bad meat.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long can meat stay out of the fridge?

Raw as well as cooked meat lasts for about 2 hours when left out of the fridge at room temperature. 

You should discard the meat that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the meat being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard meat that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long can meat stay in the fridge?

Raw meat lasts for about 1-2 days if stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge when stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag. 

On the other hand, cooked meat generally lasts for about 3-4 days when stored in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moreover, as meat is a highly perishable commodity therefore care should be taken while handling, storing, and cooking it.

It is worth mentioning that the figures mentioned above are the estimated shelf life of meat.

Ways to spot bad meat

Certain indicators point out bad meat, therefore you should consider the color, texture, and smell of your meat to reach a final verdict whether it has gone bad or not.

Color 

If you can notice that the color of the meat has changed to grey-green then it is the indication that your meat is past its prime time.

In the case of the packaged meat, if you notice that the color of the meat has turned brown then it is an indication of bad meat and you should discard it.

On the other hand when it comes to fresh fish, then it is bright in color, so if you notice that your fish fillets are dull in appearance then it is an indication that your fish is past its prime time.

Texture 

If you feel something slimy or gooey while touching the meat then it means that your meat has gone bad and it is better to discard it. 

Smell 

If you smell something acidic or sour while taking a sniff test of your meat then it means that your meat has gone bad and you should discard it.  

Health implications of eating bad meat

Bad meat contains a lot of bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus are the main culprits responsible for spoiled lunch meat while bad bacon and ham contain Salmonella, E.coli, Clostridium, or tapeworm, etc which can result in food poisoning. Moreover, it can also contain parasites that can result in toxoplasmosis or trichinosis.

In the case of beef Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Shigella, E.coli, etc. can be present that can result in food poisoning.

So if you have devoured meat that has gone bad, it can result in food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, weakness, headaches, and dehydration.

Tips to properly store meat

  1. You should always store your meat at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store your meat at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness for a long time.
  1. It is recommended to store meat on one of the shelves of the refrigerator rather than the door as there are a lot of temperature fluctuations at the door of the fridge.
  1. It is always advised to use shallow containers to store meat in the fridge so that the meat can cool down evenly and quickly.
  1. You can further prolong the shelf life of the meat by wrapping it in the heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic freezer bag and storing it in the freezer.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long can meat stay out of the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of meat at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed different ways to spot bad meat and the health implications of eating bad meat.

Citations

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Is-food-safe-if-left-out-overnight
https://oureverydaylife.com/long-can-raw-meat-sit-out-27159.html
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-tell-if-ground-beef-is-bad#:~:text=Bacteria%20can%20grow%20in%20enormous,coli.
https://www.insider.com/what-happens-if-you-eat-food-that-went-bad-2019-2

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.