How long does roast beef last in the fridge? (3 Tips)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How long does roast beef last in the fridge?”. We will look at the shelf-life of roast beef in the fridge the and proper way to store roast beef in the fridge. Then, we study meat science in detail and consider the factors that make roast beef spoil. 

How long does roast beef last in the fridge?

Roast beef typically maintains its quality in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. When it comes to cooked meats, their freshness typically holds within the range of 3-5 days. In the case of conventionally prepared roast beef, its shelf life is quite limited.

As such, there is a notable focus on exploring technologies that could extend the preservation duration while retaining the desirable attributes of the product. (1, 2)

What makes your roast beef spoil?

Meat degradation stems from a variety of influences, spanning physical, chemical, and biological factors. Among these are microorganisms like bacteria, yeast, and mold, along with enzymatic actions within the meat such as lipases and proteases.

Additionally, chemical processes like browning and oxidation, as well as physical changes induced by freezing, drying, and pressure, play a role.

Amidst these multiple contributors, microorganisms emerge as the foremost agents accountable for undermining the quality of animal-derived food products. If you refrigerate your roast beef you can expect to consume it safely until the sell-by date or even a few days after. (3) 

What conditions compel you to discard Roast Beef?

The key indicators of meat product spoilage encompass changes in texture, the emergence of sliminess or liquids, alterations in color, and the emergence of undesirable odors. These deterioration manifestations typically stem from various underlying mechanisms.

Inherent processes within the meat, such as lipid oxidation or enzymatic reactions occurring within muscle cells after slaughter, can contribute to spoilage.

Nonetheless, the foremost driver of spoilage stems from the unavoidable introduction of microorganisms (mainly bacteria) during the transition from animal to meat processing phases.

Following this introduction, these microorganisms propagate and engage in metabolic activities throughout storage. Each stage of processing can impact microbial contamination, while storage conditions play a pivotal role in shaping the composition of bacterial communities, thus influencing the trajectory of microbial spoilage progression over time. (4)

Can roast beef spoil in the fridge?

Yes, roast beef is susceptible to spoilage when stored in the refrigerator. Owing to its elevated water content and rich nutritional composition, meat falls within the category of highly perishable food items.

Within conducive environments, a myriad of microorganisms holds the potential to induce meat spoilage, contributing to the intricate microbial ecosystem linked to the degradation of raw meat.

This intricate nature makes the prevention of spoilage a formidable task. In oxygen-rich conditions, specific strains within the Pseudomonas genus emerge as prominent instigators of meat spoilage.

These particular strains possess the capability to break down glucose and amino acids, even within refrigerated settings, thereby actively advancing the spoilage progression. (5)

How to extend roast beef shelf life?

Packaging systems play a pivotal role in extending the shelf life of roast beef. They achieve this by mitigating the detrimental impact of microorganisms and atmospheric oxygen (O2), while also shielding the product from its immediate environment.

There is a growing interest in vacuum-sealed pasteurized (sous vide) foods. This process typically involves pre-preparation steps followed by vacuum packaging in high-barrier, heat-resistant bags, pasteurization, rapid cooling, and refrigerated storage (below 3°C).

This comprehensive approach prevents post-processing contamination as all the necessary steps, from heat treatment to chilling and storage, occur within sealed packages.

When stored at a temperature of 2°C, vacuum-sealed pasteurized roast beef exhibits microbiological stability for at least 5 weeks. However, under mild temperature deviations (around 10°C), occasional bloating caused by gas-producing clostridia can be observed after 3 weeks. (2)

What are the risks of consuming expired roast beef?

Consuming spoiled roast beef can lead to illness, resulting in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

These symptoms manifest as a result of ingesting food that has been tainted with either chemical substances or microorganisms, along with their associated toxins. Of particular concern among ready-to-eat meat products is the Gram-positive bacterium L. monocytogenes.

Meanwhile, pathogens commonly linked with fresh meat items include E. coli O157:H7 and related enteric microorganisms such as Salmonella. In environments conducive to its growth, the presence of L. monocytogenes poses a risk.

This risk can escalate if the pathogen becomes re-contaminated during stages like slicing and packaging, despite prior processes intended to eliminate harmful microorganisms. (6, 7) 

Other FAQs about Beef which you may be interested in.

How long can thawed beef stay in the fridge?

Can you cook frozen beef?

Can you put raw ground beef in a slow cooker?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “How long does roast beef last in the fridge?”. We also looked at the shelf-life of roast beef in the fridge the and proper way to store roast beef in the fridge. Then, we studied meat science in detail and considered the factors that make roast beef spoil.


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U.S. Department of Agriculture. Website. Washington, DC. How long can I keep meat in the refrigerator? 2023.


HANSEN, Tina B. et al. Storage characteristics of sous vide cooked roast beef. International journal of food science & technology, v. 30, n. 3, p. 365-378, 1995.


Pellissery, A. J., Vinayamohan, P. G., Amalaradjou, M. A. R., & Venkitanarayanan, K.  Spoilage bacteria and meat quality. Meat Quality Analysis, 307–334. 2020.


Luong NM, Coroller L, Zagorec M, Membré JM, Guillou S. Spoilage of Chilled Fresh Meat Products during Storage: A Quantitative Analysis of Literature Data. Microorganisms. Aug 6;8(8):1198. 2020.


Ercolini D, Russo F, Torrieri E, Masi P, Villani F. Changes in the spoilage-related microbiota of beef during refrigerated storage under different packaging conditions. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006.


Hennekinne, J.-A., Herbin, S., Firmesse, O., & Auvray, F. European Food Poisoning Outbreaks Involving Meat and Meat-based Products. Procedia Food Science, 5, 93–96. 2015.


Sofos, John N. Challenges to meat safety in the 21st century. Meat science 78.1-2, 3-13, 2008.