Meat & Poultry Storage Chart
MEAT, raw (fresh)
|Roasts, steaks or chops||3- 5 days||2- 12 months|
|Ground Meat||1- 2 days||3- 4 months|
|Variety meats, liver, tongue, chitterlings, etc.||1- 2 days||3- 4 months|
|MEAT (smoked or processed)|
|Bacon||7 days||1 month|
(in pouch w/juice)
|5-7 days||1 month|
|Ham, canned||6-9 months||Not in can|
|Ham, fully cooked, whole||7 days||1- 2 months|
|Ham, uncooked||7 days||1- 2 months|
|7 days||1- 2 months|
|Lunch meats (sealed in package)||2 weeks||1- 2 months|
|3- 5 days||1- 2 months|
|Sausage, raw||1-2 days||1- 2 months|
|Meat or dishes containing meat||3- 4 days||2- 3 months|
|Pieces covered w/gravy or broth||1- 2 days||6 months|
|Whole||1- 2 days||6- 12 months|
|Parts||1- 2 days||9 months|
|Giblets||1- 2 days||3- 4 months|
|Nuggets, patty||1- 2 days||1- 3 months|
|Cooked dishes||3- 4 days||4- 6 months|
|Ground||3- 4 days||2- 3 months|
|Fried chicken||3- 4 days||4 months|
|Lunch meats (sealed in package)||2 wks||1- 2 months|
|Lunch meats (after opening)||3- 5 days||1- 2 months|
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.
- When shopping, pick up meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and other refrigerated or frozen items last.
- Food product dating is not a Federal requirement. However, if a date appears on meat and poultry, observe it. Purchase perishable foods before a "sell by" date expires.
- Some manufacturers may post a "use-by" or "best-if-used-by" date on products. Follow that date at home. Do not buy packages that have been opened or damaged. Open packages or seals invite bacterial contamination.
Defrosting, Preparing and Cooking
- Defrost frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator; under cold running water in airtight packaging; or in the microwave. Never thaw at room temperature, in the sink or on the counter. Cook microwave-thawed foods immediately. Meat and poultry thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen. It is not necessary to rinse raw red meat or poultry before cooking.
- Always marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
- When grilling, use separate plates for carrying raw and cooked meat. Never put cooked meat on the same plate used for raw meat. That's cross contamination!
- Stuffing whole poultry must be done with special care because bacteria from raw poultry can multiply in the stuffing. Stuff just before cooking, stuff loosely (no more than 2/3 full), and be sure the stuffing reaches 165° F - either inside the bird or when cooking it in a casserole.
- Use a meat thermometer to be sure meat and poultry reach a safe temperature. Beef, veal and lamb roasts, steaks and chops can be cooked to 145° F (medium rare) to 160° F (medium). All ground meats and pork should be cooked to 160° F; ground poultry, 165° F; whole poultry, 180° F; poultry breasts, 170° F.
- Always keep cold foods cold (40° F or below) and hot foods hot (140° F and above).
- Never keep perishable foods at room temperature for longer than two hours — including time to prepare, serve and eat.
- Since most bacteria get into food through improper handling, keep a clean kitchen and avoid cross-contamination between raw foods and cooked foods.
- Store meat and poultry in the coldest part of the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours and use or freeze within three to four days.
- Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water before and after handling any raw meat or poultry.