Ground Meat & Poultry

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  • Deli & Fresh Prepared Foods
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  • Ground Meat & Poultry
  • Meat & Poultry
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Ground Meat and Poultry Storage Chart

Uncooked ground meat and ground poultry 
(bulk or patties)
1- 2 days 3- 4 Months
Cooked ground meat and ground poultry (hamburgers, meat loaf and dishes containing ground meats) 3- 4 days 2- 3 months


Ground Meat and Poultry Internal Temperature for Safe Cooking


Uncooked ground meat

165° F

Uncooked ground poultry 165° F
All cooked leftovers, reheated 165° F


Please Note: Storage times are from date of purchase.
If products bear a use-by date, observe it.

It is not important if a date expires after food is frozen.

Your supermarket maintains rigid quality assurance and sanitation standards to ensure that you always receive fresh, wholesome meat and poultry products. Once you purchase the food though, it's up to you to take care of it. This is important, especially for these perishable foods, because a large number of foodborne illnesses are caused by improper handling of foods in the home.

Safe Handling

  • Choose ground meat packages that are cold and tightly wrapped. The meat surface exposed to air will be red; the interior of fresh meat will be dark.
  • Put refrigerated and frozen foods in your grocery cart last and make the grocery store your last stop before home.
  • Pack perishables in an ice chest if it will take you more than an hour to get home.
  • Place ground meat and ground poultry in the refrigerator or freezer immediately.
  • Defrost frozen ground meats in the refrigerator - never at room temperature. If microwave defrosting, cook immediately.

Safe Storage

  • Set your refrigerator at 40° F or colder and your freezer at 0° F or colder.
  • Keep uncooked ground meat and ground poultry in the refrigerator; cook or freeze within one to two days.
  • Use or freeze cooked meat and poultry stored in the refrigerator within three or four days.
  • For best quality, store frozen raw ground meats no longer than three to four months; cooked meats, two to three months.

Clean It!

Keep EVERYTHING clean - hands, utensils, counters, cutting boards and sinks. That way your food will stay as safe as possible.

  • Always wash hands thoroughly in hot soapy water before preparing foods and after handling raw meat
  • Don't let raw meat or poultry juices touch ready-to-eat foods either in the refrigerator or during preparation.
  • Don't put cooked foods on the same plate that held raw meat or poultry.
  • Wash utensils that have touched raw meat with hot, soapy water before using them for cooked meats.
  • Wash counters, cutting boards and other surfaces raw meats have touched. And don't forget to keep the inside of your refrigerator clean.

Cook it Safely

  • Cooking kills harmful bacteria. Be sure ground meat and ground poultry are cooked thoroughly. Use a thermometer to ensure proper cooking.
  • Ground meat patties and loaves are safe when they reach 160° F in the center; ground poultry patties and loaves, 165° F regardless of color.

Cook it Evenly

  • During broiling, grilling, or cooking on the stove, turn meats over at least once.
  • When baking, set the oven no lower than 325° F
  • If microwaving, cover meats. Midway through cooking, turn patties over and rotate the dish; rotate a meat loaf; and stir ground meats once or twice. Let microwaved meats stand to complete the cooking process.
  • After cooking, refrigerate leftovers immediately. Separate into small portions for fast cooling.
  • To reheat all leftovers, cover and heat to 165° F or until hot and steaming throughout.

Most cases of food poisoning are caused by pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms, parasites or viruses. However, not all microorganisms cause food poisoning. Some bacteria, yeasts and molds are used in food production. Others are food spoilage microorganisms which cause foods to turn bad.

Bacteria are part of our environment. Where there is food there may be bacteria. Proper food handling and cooking are the best ways to prevent foodborne illness. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who have chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.