Is it safe to eat meat frozen for 3 years?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Is it safe to eat meat frozen for 3 years?”, and mention the proper way to freeze meat. We will also discuss if freezing meat for years is a good idea and what happens if you eat spoiled meat.

Is it safe to eat meat frozen for 3 years?

Yes, it is safe to eat meat frozen for 3 years  given that it was raw, uncooked and stored properly . For meat to still be good after 3 years, it should be frozen at 0 degree without any changes in the temperature. 

Meat stored at 0 degree will be fresh for as long as you want it to be. Any disruptions in the temperature can cause the meat to go bad. This is because 0 degree prevents the microorganisms from multiplying. It arrests their growth, does not necessarily kill them. As soon as the temperature fluctuates, the bacteria gets time to grow.

This is also true for when you take out the meat, thaw or defrost it, use some of it and refreeze the remaining meat. This should not be done. If you wish to store meat for 3 years, it should be kept frozen without ever taking it out. 

If you want to use some of it, you can store meat in smaller portions so that you only have to take out one portion and cook it without the need for refreezing the remaining portion.

Special attention should be given to the freezer’s temperature. Any hot dish should not be placed inside the freezer as it will make the temperature inside the freezer rise and subsequently cause the meat to spoil. 

Cooked meat however will not last as long even if frozen. It will only stay safe for consumption for upto a few months.

What is the proper way to freeze meat?

Well, the best way to store meat in the freezer is to put it inside an airtight bag or a vacuum sealed bag. It is important to keep in mind that the kind of bag you are using should be freezer safe such as a heavy duty freezer bag. This is because you want to protect the meat against freezer burn.

When storing for longer periods of time, it is also advisable that you store individual servings of meat in multiple bags so you only take out the amount needed at one time. You do not have to remove and thaw all of the meat at once and have to store the leftovers again.

This is efficient, easy and also minimizes the risk of contamination because as soon as the temperature rises, bacteria gets a chance to multiply. You would not want to freeze the contaminated meat again.

Is it a good idea to freeze meat for years?

While it is safe to consume meat frozen for years, it is not always ideal. Firstly because the meat might get a freezer burn. The meat’s texture may become rubbery and not pleasant to eat. 

Secondly, if there were any temperature fluctuations inside the freezer, it would lead to the growth of pathogens and they may produce heat resistant toxins. 

The meat may also slightly differ in taste as compared to fresh meat.

What happens if you eat spoiled meat?

While it is easy to spot spoiled meat, sometimes some bacteria produce toxins which do not alter the appearance or the smell of meat so there is no way to tell if the meat is safe to eat.

Eating spoiled meat will lead to food poisoning. The symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite and headaches. 

Some toxins may also be heat resistant so if you think cooking the meat will make it safe to eat, think again!

Salmonella is basically the most common pathogen present in poultry that is notorious for causing food poisoning. This is why it is advisable to not consume the chicken that has been left out overnight.

Learn more about food poisoning here.

Other FAQs about Meat that you may be interested in.

How long does food poisoning from meat last?

Does Meat Need To Be Submerged In Slow Cooker

How to preserve meat with salt

Can you eat raw meat?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “Is it safe to eat meat frozen for 3 years?”, and mentioned the proper way to freeze meat. We also discussed if freezing meat for years is a good idea and what happens if you eat spoiled 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.