how long does thawed ground beef last in the fridge

After thawing beef in the refrigerator, you don’t have to cook it right away. Ground beef can be stored an additional 1 to 2 days before cooking; beef roasts and steaks may be stored 3 to 5 additional days before cooking.

This has happened to all of us, even when we had the best of intentions. You put a package of ground beef in the refrigerator to thaw with plans of cooking it in the next day or so. But your plans change and you wonder what to do with the now-thawed meat. Is the meat still pink or turning a little gray? Is it still fresh, can you refreeze it, or should you go ahead and cook it up?

Paying attention to food safety is crucial when youre handling ground meats. Bacteria will collect on the exposed surfaces of meats. Even more important, any bacteria that might have been present on the original cut are circulated throughout the meat once it is ground. This can give potentially harmful bacteria a substantial head start, but it doesnt mean you cant thaw and refreeze the beef. Heres how to know if refreezing ground beef is safe.

How To Refreeze Thawed Ground Beef

According to the USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service, if you thawed your ground beef in the refrigerator and it has only been in there for a short time (three days or less), its perfectly OK to refreeze it. Keep the meat in the original packaging, but wrap it once more in aluminum foil or a freezer-safe plastic bag. Keep in mind that when you freeze, thaw, refreeze, then thaw again, the meat loses moisture at each step and you might find that the texture changes. Reserve this meat for soups and weeknight casseroles, where texture isnt as important as it is in other dishes, such as a grilled burger.

Question: I thawed some ground beef in the fridge today, planning to use it for tonight’s dinner. But now my plans have changed. Do I still have to cook the meat right away?

Three Safe Ways to Thaw Ground Beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes three safe methods of thawing for frozen foods. The best way to safely thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator. It is essential to keep meat (any meat, not just ground beef) cold while it is defrosting to prevent the growth of bacteria. Cook or refreeze ground beef within one to three days.

If you are pressed for time, you can defrost in the microwave or in cold water. When using the microwave, cook the ground beef immediately because some areas may begin to cook during the defrosting. To thaw frozen meat in cold water, put the meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately. Never refreeze raw ground meat thawed in cold water or in the microwave oven unless you cook it first.

After thawing beef in the refrigerator, you don’t have to cook it right away. Ground beef can be stored an additional 1 to 2 days before cooking; beef roasts and steaks may be stored 3 to 5 additional days before cooking.

FAQ

Is ground beef good 3 days after defrosting?

Information. While foods are in the process of thawing in the refrigerator (40 °F or less), they remain safe. After thawing, use ground meats, poultry, and fish within one or two additional days, and use beef, pork, lamb or veal (roasts, steaks, or chops) within three to five days.

Is raw ground beef good after 5 days in fridge?

For raw ground meats, poultry, seafood and variety meats (liver, tongue, chitterlings, etc.), refrigerate them only 1 to 2 days before either cooking or freezing. Beef, veal, lamb and pork roasts, steaks and chops may be kept 3 to 5 days.

Can you eat ground beef after 7 days in the fridge?

Raw ground beef is generally safe to consume within 1 to 2 days of refrigeration. After 4 days, there’s an increased risk of bacterial growth and spoilage. To ensure food safety, it’s best to cook or freeze raw ground beef within a couple of days of purchasing it.

Is ground beef OK in the fridge for 3 days?

It is safe to store ground beef in the refrigerator for 1–2 days, and eat leftovers within 4 days. A person can store ground beef in the freezer for up to 4 months. When cooking ground beef, the minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer is 160°F (71°C).

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