How long can uncooked meat stay in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “How long can uncooked meat stay in the fridge?”, discuss how to increase the shelf life of uncooked meat, and can uncooked meat go bad.

How long can uncooked meat stay in the fridge?

Uncooked meat can stay in the fridge for 3-5 days. But when you keep uncooked meat in the refrigerator rather than in the freezer, you need to pay more attention to the safety and taste of the meat. This is important because the refrigeration temperature (4℃) can slow the growth of bacteria, but it can not keep the uncooked meat fresh for as much time as we expect while keeping it in the freezer.

So you need to toss off the meat that is stored in the refrigerator for too long. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), uncooked meat can stay in the fridge for a certain limit. Following is a quick review of the storage time of different types of uncooked meat in the refrigerator:

  Uncooked meatStorage time in the refrigerator 
Poultry (chicken)1-2 days
Red meat and porkUp to 5 days
Ground meat (beef, pork, poultry)1-2 days
Lunchmeats and hot dogs2 weeks
Bacon and sausage1 week

How to increase the shelf life of uncooked meat?

The shelf life of different products is dependant on the degradation mechanism, so when you want to increase the shelf life of a product, you need to control those degradation mechanisms. In the case of uncooked meat, the shelf life is affected by heat, moisture, contamination by microorganisms, and several other factors. Therefore, to increase the shelf life of uncooked meat, you can go for:

Salting 

Salting is one of the most common and ancient ways to increase the shelf life of uncooked meat. In this, the excessive amount of salt acts as a preservative and draws all the moisture out from the uncooked meat, thereby creating an unwelcoming environment for the bacteria to grow. This is how the meat is prevented from harboring bacteria and its shelf life is increased.

Artificial food additives 

Artificial food additives such as nitrites and benzoates can also help you increase the shelf life of uncooked meat. These additives have antimicrobial as well as antioxidants properties. Due to the antioxidants, they decrease the moisture content of the meat and slow down the ripening process of meat, the antimicrobial properties of these additives help in preventing the meat from microorganisms including bacteria that are responsible for causing severe food poisoning. 

Freezing 

Freezing increases the shelf life of meat by controlling the heat without affecting the taste and texture of the meat. At freezing temperature, the bacteria get completely inactivated and so the meat can be stored even for months.

Can uncooked meat go bad?

Uncooked meat, if improperly stored, can surely go bad. It is very important to make sure that the meat is fresh and good to use to avoid any risk of consuming bad meat. Because consumption of bad meat can cause stomach pain and food poisoning. 

Signs that uncooked meat has gone bad

It is very easy but a bit tricky to check if the meat has gone bad. While observing the meat for its spoilage, keep the following things in consideration:

  • Odor

The first telltale sign that will help you to check if the meat has gone bad or not is the smell of the meat. If there is some nasty smell from the meat, this means that meat is no more good to use. Do not consider that the rotten smell is the clear indicator of meat spoilage because certain pathogenic bacteria can be harboring the meat but they are not producing the smell.

  • Texture

Spoiled meat is sticky or slimy in texture. This change in texture is due to the production of metabolites by bacteria and certain capsulated bacteria may have a slime layer on them that causes the meat to change its texture. So whenever you feel slimy texture or stickiness in meat, it will be time to discard that package of meat. 

  • Color 

The color change of the meat is also a clear indicator that the meat has gone bad. When the meat goes bad, you may observe dark-colored spots on it. You may also observe that the particular red color of the meat is masked as some brown, green, or yellow color. This color variation may not be visible on the whole piece of meat but it will develop in patches. So when the color changes, discard the whole package of that meat.

  • Expiration date

Do not use that package of meat whose best by date is long gone.

Conclusion: 

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long can uncooked meat stay in the fridge?”, discussed how to increase the shelf life of uncooked meat, and can uncooked meat go bad.

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