How Long Does Deli Meat Last?

In this brief study, we will answer the question, “how long does deli meat last?”. We will also talk about the shelf life, and storage methods of deli meat. 

How Long Does Deli Meat Last?

While the expiration date of packed lunch meat varies depending on the kind, the packaging will often have a sell-by date. In addition, although the meat generally can last a few days longer, do not hold your breath for miraculous results.

Cold cuts maintain their freshness for up to 7 days after they have been opened from the original sealed packaging. The kind of meat and how it is stored are important considerations. Pepperoni and salami, for example, have a longer shelf life than ham or poultry because they contain less moisture.

If you buy meat from the deli counter, it will typically last between 2 and 5 days in the refrigerator after being cut. 


If you need to preserve the lunch meat for a long length of time, you may put it in the freezer.

Prepackaged deli meat (unopened)Sell-by + 3 – 5 days
Prepackaged deli meat (opened)3 – 5 days
Lunchmeat sliced as a deli counter2 – 5 days

Please keep in mind that the time frames shown above are just approximations.

5 ways to tell whether your deli meat has gone bad.

Preventing potential foodborne diseases can only be accomplished via appropriate sanitation and proper storage practices. In the majority of instances, utilizing your senses to determine whether or not this item has gone bad is a trustworthy method of finding out. Let us put it to the test!

Date of expiration

When purchasing deli meat, the very first move to do is look for the sell-by expiration on the label. If you keep the unopened product in the refrigerator, you should not eat it for more than 2 weeks after this time limit has passed.


If you see a moist or slimy coating on the surface of the deli meat, you may be sure that this is no longer edible. In every situation, it is the consequence of bacteria or yeast development, which turns the product unfit for human consumption.


One of the first indications that deli meat has gone bad is the presence of a sour, rotten, or yeasty stench. It typically happens after a package has been opened and has been kept in the refrigerator for longer than five days. In such a situation, it is appropriate to discard the item.


It is usually a warning indication that anything is improper with the deli meat when it becomes discolored. Some products’ margins may become grey, yellow, or brown as a result of spoiling, and that is an indication of deterioration. Over time, these modifications will spread and have an impact on the core components, and you should dispose of them.


Any deli meat that shows signs of mold or odd growths should be discarded right once, according to FDA guidelines.

How Should Deli Meat Be Stored?

You may choose from a variety of deli meats, although their qualities are not significantly different. As a result, the methods through which you must keep them to prolong their lifetime are very similar. 


When you purchase the entire deli meat pack, you may keep it in the pantry for a while by keeping it cool, dry, and dark. However, this may not be a good idea since the likelihood of bacterial development increases as time goes on.

Take note that temperatures greater than 46.5 F (8 C) encourage fast bacteria development, thus this technique of storing food is only suitable for a short time. If the meat has been sitting at room temp for more than two hours, it is suggested that it be thrown out.


The best choice is to put unopened packets of these extremely perishable items into a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) as quickly as you get them home. It is also possible to do this with leftovers after each meal in which you utilize deli meat as the main ingredient.

Whenever possible, store open slices in a securely sealed container to prevent deterioration due to oxygen, humidity, and other external pollutants.

It is possible to store leftovers in the refrigerator if you buy prepackaged goods in their original packaging. Alternatively, use a freezer bag to keep your meat from drying out, but be sure to remove all of the air before closing the bag securely.

Always store chopped deli meat at the back of the refrigerator or in the meat cabinet. These are the coolest sections of your refrigerator, and keeping these items there is the most effective method to extend the shelf life of the product.


If you need to keep your deli lunch fresh for a longer time, you may freeze it instead. The most effective approach is to cut it and store it in smaller pieces in separate freezer bags before freezing. In this manner, you will only have to defrost the quantity of frozen food that you require for a certain meal.

Consequences Of Eating Old Deli Meat

If you have not detected that your deli meat has gone bad, you may be suffering from food poisoning, which shows itself in the form of symptoms like the following.

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea with a lot of water

The first signs of trouble usually show in few hours, although they may emerge as late as a few days in certain instances. The good news is that foodborne illness is a curable illness, but it may be very unpleasant. You should be prepared for symptoms to persist anywhere from a few hours or days.


In this brief study, we answered the question, “how long does deli meat last?”. We also talked about the shelf life and storage methods of deli meat.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.