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How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

Posted in Food Safety on February 28, 2022

How long ground beef lasts in the fridge largely depends on how it is stored. As long as it is unopened and has remained refrigerated at all times, it can be safely used for one to two days after purchase. After that, it should be stored in the freezer or discarded. Cooked ground beef can be safely kept in the fridge for three to four days. In the freezer, raw ground beef is safe indefinitely. However, it will begin to deteriorate and lose its quality after four months.

How Should Ground Beef Be Stored?

As soon as you arrive home, put the ground beef away first and store it unopened and in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The fridge should be kept at 40° or below. Avoid storing it in the door since the temperature fluctuates in this area. You can keep the ground beef in its original packaging in the fridge or wrap the meat in plastic wrap before placing it in an airtight container. Once you open the package, the meat will go brown quicker, but it will still be safe for two days. If freezing ground beef, it is best to do so in its original packaging unless you plan to store it for an extended period. In that case, pre-portion the meat and wrap each portion in plastic wrap before placing them in a sealed plastic bag.

Cooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Before storing it, drain any excess fat and let the beef cool for no longer than two hours. Then, place the beef in an airtight container that doesn’t leave room for excess air since it can dry out the meat. If kept in the fridge, cooked ground beef can be safely consumed within three to four days.

How Do You Tell If Ground Beef Has Gone Bad?

The first thing to do is check the expiration date on your ground beef. If the date has passed, it should be discarded. However, ground beef can spoil prior to the expiration date. Spoiled beef will smell bad or “off” and develop a slimy or sticky texture. If the ground beef is a little gray on the inside, it is okay, but if it is gray on the outside too, it can be a sign that it is beginning to go bad. However, color change alone does not indicate spoilage. Over time, ground beef will change color once exposed to oxygen.

What Happens if You Eat Expired Ground Beef?

Ground beef that is undercooked, contaminated with raw meat juice, or left out at room temperature for several hours can encourage the growth of bacteria. Once bacteria enter the body, they will multiply exponentially and cause food poisoning symptoms as your body begins to rid itself of the pathogens. Most people who consume spoiled ground beef suffer gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea, abdominal pain, headache, fever, chills, vomiting, and diarrhea. When E. coli is the culprit, it is especially concerning as this bacteria can cause severe illness or death, particularly in the elderly and children.

If you or a loved suffered injuries or illness from consuming contaminated beef, contact us. The food safety lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can help you recover the compensation you deserve.