How long does ground meat last in the fridge? (+5 storage tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “How long does ground meat last in the fridge?”, and how to tell If the ground beef is bad?

How long does ground meat last in the fridge?

Any type of ground meat lasts 1-2 days in the fridge maintained at  40 °F or below. It lasts 3-4 months in the freezer. 

Cold food storage chart

Food Type Refrigerator(40 °F or below)Freezer(0 °F or below)
Hot dogs Opened package Unopened package 1 week 2 weeks1-2 months 1-2 months 
Luncheon meat Opened package or deli-slicedUnopened package3-5 days
2 weeks  
1-2 months 
1-2 months 
Bacon and sausage Bacon 
Sausage, raw, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef
Sausage, fully cooked, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef
Sausage purchased frozen
1 week 
1-2 days 


1 week 



After cooking, 3-4 days
1 month 
1-2 months 


1-2 months 



1-2 months from date of purchase

How to tell if the ground beef has spoiled?

Color

If the ground beef has developed grey, green, or brown patches on the surface, throw it out because it is a clear sign of spoilage. Fresh meat has a bright red color due to oxymyoglobin. Raw ground beef that looks grey or brown from the inside is safe to eat.

Texture

Fresh meat looks juicy and firm. If the meat develops a slimy texture and feels tacky upon touching, discard it immediately.

Smell

If the meat is rotting, it will give off a rancid and putrid odor due to the growth of spoilage bacteria like Lactobacillus and Pseudomonas.

Expiration date

Keep a track of the expiration dates and do not consume if the ground beef is past its expiry. In case the meat was frozen, it will be safe to eat past its expiry.

How to store ground beef?

  • Refrigerate your ground beef in its original packaging if it is to be consumed within 3 days of its purchase. 
  • Keep at a steady temperature of 4.4°C or below.
  • Cured ground meat will last more in the fridge than raw meat. It is not recommended to store partially cooked ground meat. This allows the bacteria to multiply to unsafe levels that cannot be destroyed by subsequent cooking.
  • If meat is to be stored for longer time periods, then freezing is a good choice. For freezing, take out the meat from the original packaging and transfer it to a freezer bag or a heavy-duty plastic bag to prevent freeze injury. 
  • The meat will remain safe indefinitely at a steady freezing temperature but gradually loses quality over time.

How to thaw ground beef?

Do not thaw your meat at room temperature. Instead, plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Refrain from refreezing thawed ground beef as it will considerably damage the quality.

The freeze-thaw cycle will result in the formation of larger ice crystals each time. These crystals, each time when they melt, disrupt the texture and deprive the meat of essential nutrients.

Although it is not recommended, if you are in a hurry and will be cooking your meat immediately after thawing, you can thaw your meat under cold running water.

The second option is to microwave it. This is going to damage the quality and partially cook your meat and is not recommended. You can also thaw ground beef by keeping the bag in a bowl full of water and changing the water every 30 minutes or so.

How to refreeze ground beef safely?

Meat is a perishable food commodity. But when it is ground, it is naturally exposed to a lot of spoilage and disease-causing microbes. The surface area of the ground beef adds to the vulnerability.

If you thawed your ground beef, whether cooked or uncooked, in a refrigerator then It will be safe to use within 3-4 days. You can either cook it or toss it back into the freezer. But If it had been thawed out in the open and kept there for more than 2 hours or 1 hour.

In case the temperature was above 32 degrees Celcius, it is likely to have become unsafe for consumption.

Whether your meat is cooked or not, always use a heavy-duty plastic/aluminum bag to contain it. If you are not using vacuum-sealed bags then squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag. 

This creates a vacuum-like environment with minimum air contact. Raw ground meat will stay fresh for 3-4 months in the freezer.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “How long does ground meat last in the fridge?”, and how to tell If the ground beef is bad?

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ways-to-tell-if-ground-beef-is-bad#2.-Inspect-the-texture
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/ground-beef-and-food-safety/ct_index#:~:text=Never%20leave%20ground%20beef%20or,meat%20may%20contain%20harmful%20bacteria
https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

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Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.