How long does raw ground beef last in fridge?

In this brief guide we will answer the question, ‘How long does raw ground beef last in the fridge?’. We will explore the features of raw ground beef in depth including the shelf-life, storage techniques, and signs of spoilt raw ground beef.

How long does raw ground beef last in the fridge?

Food Safety Authorities recommend using raw Ground Beef within 1-2 days when kept in the refrigerator.

If your raw ground beef is stored in the fridge, then consume within two days. However, in places with a hot climate and no proper cooling system, raw meat can be kept for an hour at most. Raw ground meat has a shorter life than the larger cuts.

Ground Beef is a must-buy. It is a versatile meat kind that is tasty and inexpensive. You can cook ground beef into anything from casseroles to hamburger steak. The best part is it takes shorter to cook because of its exposed surface area and is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B. This ground-up red meat will provide you with essential nutrients when eaten as part of a balanced diet. 

What makes your Raw Ground Beef spoil?

 Meat is mostly water and highly nutritious, which means that it is a haven for bacterial growth. Ground beef may be more susceptible than the solid counterpart because of its exposed surface area. Raw ground meat is more susceptible because of a higher water activity than its cooked counterpart.

Hence, it is likely to spoil sooner if it wasn’t refrigerated or handled properly.

 Meat is usually attacked by Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria; these microorganisms thrive at a slower pace if the ground meat was handled carefully. 

When you freeze, the bacteria become inactive; hence your raw ground beef lasts longer. Freezing meat is always a safe bet because the microbial activity has completely halted. 

However, if the meat was subjected to certain adverse conditions such as hot temperature; or an exposed environment; your meat quality and safety are at stake.

If you handle your raw ground meat safely, you can expect to consume it safely until the sell-by date or even a few days after.

Refrigeration is not as efficient as freezing is when it comes to conserving the shelf life of raw meat. Refrigeration works best if you intend to consume your ground meat sooner or later.

How to store raw ground beef? (refrigeration versus Freezing)

  • For extended storage, freeze instead of refrigerating it.
  • Thaw in the fridge rather than the room temperature.
  • Once you thaw, do not refreeze.

According to the USDA, when you buy raw ground beef, freeze it within 1-2 days. However, if your best-buy date for refrigeration has not passed yet, you could still choose to freeze it. Make sure it is still in a store-bought air-tight container and place it as further away from the door as possible. 

According to USDA, the temperature of 40 F to 140 F is labeled as “The Danger Zone”. This range of temperature encourages bacterial growth.  Spoilage is usually a quality issue in its initial stage and does not cause illness. However, gradually the food becomes a complete hazard.

To keep raw ground meat out of the danger zone, store them at extreme temperatures of either hot or cold.

Other FAQs about Beef which you may be interested in.

How long can cooked ground beef sit out?

How long can defrosted ground beef stay in the fridge?

How to know if the beef is spoiled? (5 easy methods)

What is the role of fridge when it comes to conserving raw ground beef?

The temperature of the fridge should be at least 40 degrees. Store the raw ground meat in the cooler part of the fridge where it is cooler. The door and the lower compartment of the fridge, usually are cooler.

The optimum temperature to store meat at refrigeration is around 33 Fahrenheits. Refrigeration does not halt bacterial growth; it merely slows it down. 

Even though bacteria destroy when meat cooks, the bacteria produce toxins that remain even after, so throw away your ground meat if you left it outside.

What conditions compel you to discard Raw Ground Beef?

IF you left raw ground meat at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you might need to throw it away. Room temperature or higher encourages bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning and make a person sick.

The quality of beef deteriorates as the sell-by date approaches, but it gives off signs when it is about to spoil.  Throw it away if you observe off-odor, moldy or slimy texture.

If you observe any of the three following signs, it means your raw ground beef has spoilt: 

  • a Greyish-brown color
  • a sticky or slimy texture
  • a tangy, putrid odor

In this brief guide we answered the question, ‘How long does raw ground beef last in the fridge?’. We explored the features of raw ground beef in depth including the shelf-life, storage techniques, and signs of spoilt raw ground beef.


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.