How long will a fresh turkey last in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long will a fresh turkey last in the fridge?”, discuss answers to other related questions like how to increase the shelf life of turkey, and how to tell if the turkey has gone bad.

How long will a fresh turkey last in the fridge?

Fresh turkey can stay in the fridge for 1-2 days. But when you keep the turkey 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.

While refrigerating turkey, it is better to store it in its original packaging. Place the turkey on a tray on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Set the turkey on a baking tray to catch any juices escaping from the packaging. 

How long will a fresh turkey last at room temperature?

Fresh turkey can last at room temperature for only 2 hours. This is because the room temperature is generally higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and at temperatures higher than that, bacteria start spreading on the turkey. Bacteria will start growing on the turkey as soon as it reaches 40 °F. Even if the turkey is in its original packaging and you put it back in the refrigerator, the bacteria will still be present.

To avoid any risk, throw away any turkeys kept unrefrigerated for long periods of time.

How to increase the shelf life of turkey?

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 turkey, the shelf life is affected by heat, moisture, contamination by microorganisms, and several other factors. Therefore, to increase the shelf life of turkey, you can go for:

Salting:

Salting is one of the most common and ancient ways to increase the shelf life of meat including that of turkey. In salting, the excessive amount of salt acts as a preservative and draws all the moisture out from the meat, thereby creating an unwelcoming environment for the bacteria to grow. This is how 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 antioxidants and have antimicrobial properties. Due to the antioxidants, they decrease the moisture content of the meat and slow down the ripening process of the meat. The antimicrobial properties of these additives help in preventing the meat from microorganisms including the bacteria that are responsible for causing mild to severe food poisoning.

Freezing:

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

How to tell if the turkey has gone bad?

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

Odor

The first telltale sign that will help you to check if the turkey meat has gone bad or not is the smell of meat. If there is some nasty smell coming 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 turkey meat is slimy and sticky 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 the right time to discard that package of turkey meat.

Color

The color change of the meat is also a clear indicator that the meat has gone bad. When the turkey meat goes bad, you may observe dark-colored spots on it. You will also observe that the particular red color of the meat has been masked by some other color like green, brown, or yellow.

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long will a fresh turkey last in the fridge?”, discussed answers to other related questions like how to increase the shelf life of turkey, and how to tell if the turkey has gone bad.

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