How Long Can Ground Meat Stay in the Fridge?

  • By: Brendan

I’ve been grinding a lot of meat lately for puppy meals, as well as to make fresh burgers and other tantalizing food items.

However, I’ve almost run out of freezer storage space, and am wondering if I can grind meat and store it in the fridge.

How Long Can Ground Meat Stay in the Fridge

You can store ground beef in the fridge for roughly one to two days, and in the freezer for up to four months. It isn’t safe to eat ground beef beyond this time, but there are also several ways to check whether the ground beef has gone bad.


How Long Can Ground Beef Stay in the Fridge?

I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but ground beef only stays on the fridge for only two days according to FoodSafety.gov.

But the good news is that there are a few extra measures you can take to extend the shelf life of ground beef.

For starters, you should always aim to buy the highest quality ground beef, even it means paying a few bucks extra.

You should also pay attention to how you store ground beef in the fridge, where you want to keep it in its original packaging, store it in the bottom shelf, and towards the back of your refrigerator.


How Long Can Cooked Ground Beef Stay in the Fridge?

If you’ve cooked up some ground beef for taco night, you’re probably wondering how long does cooked ground beef stay good in the fridge.

Well, the answer to that question depends on several factors, starting with how long after cooking you stored the ground beef.

You should store ground beef after two hours of cooking in the fridge, which when properly stored will last for three to four days.

Cooked ground beef can be stored in your fridge for roughly two to three months, but is often time safe after this time, even though it will deteriorate in quality.

Cooked ground beef should be discarded if left out at room temperature for more than two hours because bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40-degrees Fahrenheit and 140-degrees Fahrenheit.


How Long Does Thawed Ground Meat Last in the Fridge?

If you thawed out ground beef in the fridge for dinner and later had a change of plans, you’re probably wondering if you have to cook the meat right away.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if you’ve thawed ground beef in the fridge, you’ve some breathing room of one or two days in the refrigerator before cooking.

You can also refreeze ground beef after you’ve thawed it in the fridge as long as it’s within the one to two days timeframe.

This timeframe however doesn’t apply if you thawed ground beef in the microwave or in cold water because meat could easily warm up to 40°F temperature using these two methods and cause harmful bacteria to multiply.


Where Can Ground Beef be Stored Longer, Fridge, or Freezer?

Ground beef can be stored longer up to four months in your freezer, and just one to two days in your fridge (yikes).

You should store the ground beef immediately in your fridge or freezer when you get back home from the store. Raw meat shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for longer than it’s absolutely necessary.

In fact, I recommend adding ground beef to your shopping cart after you’ve finished shopping., and maybe even bring along a cooler or thermal bag to store the ground beef if you live far away from the grocery store.

If you’re going to keep the ground beef in the fridge, put it in the back area in the main compartment where the temperature is below 40-degrees.

Avoid storing ground beef in the door of your fridge, as doing so may cause juices to leak onto other foods, and the temperature generally fluctuates more in this area.

When freezing ground beef, you can either freeze it with the store packaging or wrap it in heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, or freezer-safe bags.

To save store space, use a rolling pin to flatten the meat, be sure to write the date on the packages, and consume the beef within four months.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to freeze ground beef in portions that you will cook later rather than in one big chunk. This way you won’t have to thaw the entire chuck and refreeze unused portions.


Is Ground Beef Good After 3 Days in the Fridge?

You may notice that your ground beef has turned brown after three days in the fridge, which is the color from oxidation just like when you cut an apple and it browns.

Most leading publications say that you should throw away ground beef that has changed color, but reputed chefs claim that it’s safe to consume this color of ground beef for up to six days.

If you ask me, I wouldn’t take any chances, because consuming ground beef past its expiry day and especially beef that has changed color could cause serious illness.


How to Know if Ground Beef Stored in Fridge Has Gone Bad?

Bad Ground Beef

There are four sure-shot ways to tell if ground beef in your fridge has gone bad.

1. Check the color

There are several reasons for ground beef changing color including exposure to oxygen, light, temperature, and microbial growth.

Remove the ground beef from the fridge, and check the inside if it’s greyish-brown, which doesn’t mean it’s spoilt. But if the beef is brown or grey on the outside, it’s not safe for consumption, and you should dispose of it right away.

2. Inspect the texture

Another way of telling if ground beef in the fridge is gone bad is by simply feeling the texture. If the texture is sticky or slimy, it may be plagued with bacteria, so toss it out immediately, and wash your hands to prevent the spread of bacteria to other surfaces.

3. Smell the beef

This is perhaps the easiest and quickest way of determining if the ground beef in your fridge is bad. If the beef has a tangy, putrid odor, then great chances are that it’s gone bad.

4. Check the expiration date

There’s a good reason why all ground beef packages have a sell-by and/or expiration date, and meat that’s past these dates shouldn’t be consumed unless it’s frozen.


What Happens if You Eat Bad Ground Beef?

I’m not going to sugarcoat this, but eating bad ground beef can be detrimental to your health. The first thing to understand is that spoiled ground beef is tainted with pathogenic bacteria, which can cause vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Salmonella is the most common type of bacteria found in bad ground beef, and its symptoms may take several days to appear.

To reduce the risk of illness, it’s important to cook ground beef thoroughly, and even go a bit further by using a meat thermometer to check to ensure the meat is well cooked.

Some readers ask if you can get food poisoning from eating spoilt cooked beef, and the answer is a resounding yes.

The main cause of food poisoning is bacteria, and sometimes viruses and other germs. On a brighter note, food poisoning doesn’t last long, and very few cases require a visit to a doctor or hospital.


Tips to Safely Handle Ground Beef

  1. When you buy ground beef at the store, head home directly to reduce the time it’s left unrefrigerated.
  2. Check the expiration date, and buy the freshest ground beef available.
  3. Refrigerate or freeze the ground beef as soon as you get home, and maintain a temperature lower than 40°F (4°C) in your fridge or freezer.
  4. Thaw frozen ground beef in the fridge instead of the microwave or in cold water.
  5. Refrigerate cooked ground beef within two hours after cooking, and consume within three to four days.

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