how long refrigerate ground beef

Information. Refrigerate or freeze ground beef or hamburger as soon as possible after purchase. It can be refrigerated or frozen in its original packaging if the meat will be used soon. If refrigerated, keep at 40 °F or below and use within one or two days.

Ground beef is likely to go bad faster than other cuts of meat. People should pay close attention to the color, texture, smell, and expiration date of ground beef. It is safe to store ground beef in the refrigerator for 1–2 days.

Ground beef is a popular and versatile meat that may be a staple item in many people’s diets in the United States. Research estimates that around 62% of all beef sold in the U.S. is ground. But the process of grinding meat exposes a larger surface area of ground beef to potentially harmful bacteria. This means it is likely to go bad faster than other cuts of beef.

Two examples of bacteria that may affect ground beef are spoilage bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. Spoilage bacteria are not generally harmful, but will cause food to lose quality. This may cause unpleasant odors or taste. Pathogenic bacteria are more dangerous. They may contaminate food and cause a foodborne illness, which can result in food poisoning.

In this article, we will discuss signs to look out for to tell if ground beef is bad and provide tips on how to safely handle and store ground beef.

Consuming spoiled or undercooked beef can make people feel sick, so individuals should try to store, handle, and prepare beef safely to prevent them from getting ill. There are signs people can be aware of that may warn them that ground beef is now bad.

One quick way to determine if ground beef has spoiled or is good to eat is by looking at the color of the meat. Good quality, unspoiled ground beef bought from the supermarket should be bright red on the outside.

This is due to oxygen from the air reacting with meat pigments called oxymyoglobin to form a bright red color on the surface of the meat. Oxymyoglobin is typically the red liquid that leaks out of meat that many people may mistake for blood.

The inside of the meat will likely not have reacted with oxygen, so may be grayish brown in color, but is still perfectly fine to eat.

But if the ground beef is gray or brown on the outside surface of the meat, people should discard it. This discoloration suggests that it has started to go bad.

If a person notices mold on the surface of their ground beef, they should throw it away immediately, whether it be raw or cooked.

People can also check the texture to see if meat is bad. Ground beef that is fine to consume should have a relatively firm consistency that breaks apart when a person squeezes it.

But a sticky or slimy texture may indicate the presence of spoilage bacteria. This may be the result of ropy slime-forming bacteria. This bacteria can release volatile compounds that may cause slime to form on the surface of the meat.

To avoid potentially spreading bacteria, it is advisable for people to thoroughly wash their hands after handling raw meat.

Another way to tell if ground beef has gone bad is by simply smelling it. Normal, safe, fresh ground beef should not have a noticeable or unpleasant smell. Multiplying spoilage bacteria can cause a strong odor to occur.

But it is important to remember that pathogenic bacteria may not cause a bad smell. So if there is not a bad scent but the ground beef is displaying other signs that it has gone bad, it is still advisable to discard the meat.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not require there be an expiration date label on any food products except infant formula. But because there are localized rules surrounding these dates, most food products do tend to have a date on them.

While many products may feature a “best before” label, the FDA want to dispel confusion and instead use the term “best if used by.” Labels such as “best before” simply refer to how long the product is likely to keep its quality and flavor, not safety.

As long as a person correctly and safely stores their meat, they do not necessarily need to discard any products past their “best before” date. It is safe for people to consume refrigerated ground beef up to 2 days past this date. If freezing, it is advisable to eat ground beef within 4 months.

But if a person has not correctly or safely stored meat, it is not advisable to eat it beyond the “best before” date. If a person has stored the meat at too high a temperature, or the packaging is torn or leaking, it is possible that bacteria has contaminated the ground beef.

People should be cautious if they suspect that ground beef may be bad. By consuming potentially spoiled meat, people run the risk of developing food poisoning.

Outbreaks of food poisoning linked to ground beef are relatively common in the U.S.

Bacteria that may cause these outbreaks include Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or Campylobacter. While many infections resulting from these bacteria can be mild, in some cases they can be life threatening.

In order to avoid foodborne illnesses, people should follow the four guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service:

People should ensure that their refrigerator and freezer are the correct temperature to keep their food safe. The refrigerator should be at or below 40°F (4°C) and the freezer at or below 0°F (-17°C).

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). It is important that a person never leaves ground beef out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as this can cause harmful bacteria to grow.

By correctly and safely handling and storing ground beef, people should be able to avoid spoilage. It is important for people to be aware of potential signs that may indicate spoilage, such as color, smell, texture, and compromised packaging or storage.

In addition to safe handling and storage of ground beef, people should also ensure they thoroughly cook ground beef to the correct internal temperature to destroy bacteria.

How to Store Cooked Beef

Cooked beef should be stored in the refrigerator. It will cool more quickly if big pieces are cut into smaller ones, or if it is spread out on a baking sheet.

Once its no longer hot, wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it. Its best to refrigerate the meat as quickly as possible, and definitely within two hours of cooking. If meat is left at a temperature of 40 degrees F or warmer for longer than two hours, harmful bacteria can multiply quickly.

Once refrigerated, cooked beef should be eaten within three to four days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Cooked beef can be stored in the freezer for a longer window of time. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, making sure there is as little air as possible in contact with the meat. Its a good idea to place the wrapped meat in a zip-top freezer bag to further protect against freezer burn, and be sure to label the contents and the date.

According to the USDA, cooked beef will keep in the freezer for two to three months; after that it may still be safe to eat but the texture and flavor may begin to deteriorate.

People should ensure that their refrigerator and freezer are the correct temperature to keep their food safe. The refrigerator should be at or below 40°F (4°C) and the freezer at or below 0°F (-17°C).

Ground beef is likely to go bad faster than other cuts of meat. People should pay close attention to the color, texture, smell, and expiration date of ground beef. It is safe to store ground beef in the refrigerator for 1–2 days.

One quick way to determine if ground beef has spoiled or is good to eat is by looking at the color of the meat. Good quality, unspoiled ground beef bought from the supermarket should be bright red on the outside.

Bacteria that may cause these outbreaks include Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), or Campylobacter. While many infections resulting from these bacteria can be mild, in some cases they can be life threatening.

People should be cautious if they suspect that ground beef may be bad. By consuming potentially spoiled meat, people run the risk of developing food poisoning.

How to Defrost Cooked Beef

The best way to defrost cooked beef is in the refrigerator. Transfer the wrapped package of frozen meat into the refrigerator, and let it thaw slowly.

This method can take a long time depending on the size of the meat, up to 24 hours for steaks or roasts.

A faster method is to put the wrapped meat in a resealable bag if it isnt already, press out any excess air, and submerge the bag in a large bowl of cool water. Change the water every half hour or so, replacing it with fresh cold water, until the meat is thawed, which can take up to two hours, depending on size.

Information. Refrigerate or freeze ground beef or hamburger as soon as possible after purchase. It can be refrigerated or frozen in its original packaging if the meat will be used soon. If refrigerated, keep at 40 °F or below and use within one or two days.

FAQ

How long can raw ground beef stay fresh in the fridge?

A package of ground beef can stay in the fridge for up to two days from the date of purchase, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By day two, it’s best to either cook the ground beef or freeze it. Freezing ground beef is a great long-term solution, as it can last in the freezer for months.

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.

How long does sealed ground beef last in the fridge?

Raw Meats – Raw meats can be kept up to 10 day when vacuum packed before needing to be cooked or frozen. In comparison, raw meat that is not vacuum packed will only last 3-5 days in the refrigerator before turning.

How do you know when ground beef has gone bad?

Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Smell and visually examine at your ground beef, and if it’s brown or an off odor, those could be signs that your ground beef is spoiled. Always remember — when in doubt, throw it out!

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