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How Long Does Meat Stay Good in the Refrigerator?

author image Ann Frederick
Ann Frederick has been a professional writer since 1993. She began her career as a television news producer and then transitioned into public relations, working for local, state and federal government agencies. Her professional awards include a silver ADDY. Frederick holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from Florida State University.
How Long Does Meat Stay Good in the Refrigerator?
Packaged meat. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

Meat is only safe to keep in the refrigerator for a certain length of time, after which you should throw it out. This may be costly, but consuming meat that has gone bad may cause you to become ill. Spoiled meat may have a strange look or smell. although tainted meat may appear normal.

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Fresh beef.
Fresh beef. Photo Credit: Images

You can keep beef roasts and steaks in the refrigerator safely for three to five days by storing the meat at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be sure to consume ground beef, liver, kidneys and beef tongue within two days. If the product’s package includes a use-by date, eat or freeze the fresh beef by that date, even if it is earlier than what USDA guidelines suggest. If fresh beef has turned brown and is sticky when you touch it, the meat may have spoiled.


Fresh pork.
Fresh pork. Photo Credit: Liliia Rudchenko/iStock/Getty Images

When you buy fresh pork chops, roasts or ribs, plan to use or freeze them within three to five days. The USDA says you should eat pork liver within one to two days. When storing fresh pork in the refrigerator. Proper cooking will kill any bacteria present in properly stored meat, so you don’t need to rinse your roast before baking. If you marinate the pork and want to use the leftover marinade on cooked pork, make sure you boil the sauce before doing so.


Fresh chicken.
Fresh chicken. Photo Credit: Jacek Chabraszewski/iStock/Getty Images

The safe storage window for fresh chicken is much shorter than that of pork chops or beef roasts. You need to eat fresh chicken in one to two days after purchase. The USDA advises against rinsing chicken before cooking it, noting that this does not kill bacteria and may actually spread the germs to other surfaces. If you buy a fully cooked rotisserie chicken, make sure it is hot at the time of purchase. If you want to eat it later, cut it into pieces, refrigerate it in a shallow container and use it within three to four days. You can eat it cold or reheat it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


Fresh seafood.
Fresh seafood. Photo Credit: Alexander Raths/iStock/Getty Images

You need to eat fresh seafood within two days of purchase and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When shopping for fish, select pieces that smell fresh and mild and have flesh that springs back when pressed. Avoid any pieces that have mushy spots or have darkening or drying around the edges. Whole fish should have firm, shiny flesh and clear eyes. Avoid clams, mussels and oysters with cracked or broken shells.

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