The versatile ground beef can be used in many recipes – burgers, nachos, tacos, meatloaf, kebabs. A bonus in cooking up that ground beef recipe is the affordable cost of the meat. But before you stock up on too much ground beef, find out first how long ground beef lasts in the fridge.
How long does ground beef last in the fridge (raw)? Raw ground beef will last in the fridge for 1-2 days at the most. Make sure that you store it in the original packaging it came in upon purchase and keep it unopened until ready to cook. Also, ensure that your fridge has a stable temperature of 40°F. If you need to store raw ground beef longer than two days, put it in the freezer.
Read on to learn more about how long ground beef lasts in the fridge, as well as storage and handling tips.
How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge? (Raw)
It’s so convenient to brown up some ground beef. Just easily toss in some onions and garlic, add some herbs and seasoning, and make it the base for a variety of dishes. There may be a catch to its versatility, though. Raw ground beef won’t last long if stored in the refrigerator.
Handling and Storage
Time plays a crucial role in keeping your raw ground beef fresh and making it last longer. Raw ground beef will start to deteriorate from the time of purchasing it to the moment you store it in your refrigerator or freezer.
When you get home from picking up your groceries, store raw ground beef first before putting away the other items. If you’re doing other errands after buying raw ground beef, bring a cooler or icebox with ice and place it there.
Fridge or Freezer?
Whether you just purchased ground beef from the store or thawing it out from the freezer, it will only last 1-2 days in your fridge. Place your ground beef on a shelf with a consistent temperature of 40°F or lower. Also, keep your ground beef in its original packaging when storing it in the refrigerator.
After purchasing raw ground beef, refrigerate or freeze it right away to slow down the growth of bacteria. Bacteria may be found in ground beef, as with any other meat product. But bacteria will grow faster at a temperature between 40°F and 140°F.
Bacteria in Raw Ground Beef
Raw ground beef may host bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella that can cause foodborne illnesses. To avoid getting ill, you must cook ground beef properly and thoroughly. The internal temperature required is 160°F.
But before purchasing raw ground beef, make sure that it is of good quality to have a longer shelf life. So, only buy high-quality ground beef from reputable sources. Generally, storing ground beef in the refrigerator is safe for 1-2 days. If you need to save it for an extended time, store it in the freezer.
Storing Ground Beef Longer than Two Days – Freeze It
If you need to store raw ground beef for more than two days, do not keep it in the refrigerator. Store it in the freezer instead. Just make sure that your freezer has a consistent temperature of 0°F.
For freezer storage, it is highly recommended to keep the ground beef’s original packaging. Next, wrap it using plastic wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil, or freezer paper. Securely wrapping your ground beef will prevent freezer burn and extend your ground beef’s freshness and shelf life.
Proper freezing of your ground beef will make it last for 3 to 4 months. Do not forget to label the packaging of your ground beef with its storage date.
Temperature Guide for Ground Beef
Usually, bacteria will multiply much quickly at temperatures between 40°F to 140°F. For raw meats, including raw ground beef, destroying these bacteria means cooking the meat at an internal temperature of 160°F. Ground meat has more surface area that can be exposed to bacteria. Thus, it is essential to cook your raw ground beef very well.
Some bacteria will cause fast spoilage or quickly make food deteriorate and lose its freshness. Food may also develop a bad smell if they become spoiled.
Tips for Properly Storing Raw Ground Beef
We’ve answered the question how long is raw ground beef good for in the fridge? Next, let’s look at tips on properly storing raw ground beef so that it stays as fresh as possible in the fridge.
Most food can have bacteria. Some harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus aureus, can be found in food of an animal origin. It can be difficult to determine if food is contaminated because you can’t see (or smell) bacteria. They can rapidly multiply if food is not stored correctly.
To ensure that your raw ground beef maintains its freshness, follow the important tips below regarding its proper storage and cooking:
1. Buy in Bulk and Portion It
Ground beef is usually cheaper if you buy it in bulk. If you’re buying a lot of ground beef, plan your menu ahead of time. Divide your ground beef into portions. You may choose to divide it into half-pound or one-pound portions. Freeze these portions separately for easier and quicker thawing.
The sell-by date stamped on your ground beef may expire while you’re storing your ground beef. If stored correctly in the right conditions, it will still be perfectly safe to cook and consume even after the sell-by date.
2. Place it on the Bottom Shelf
Raw ground beef can last in your refrigerator for 1-2 days. When you store the meat inside your fridge, place it on the bottom shelf so that it won’t be dripping its juices to other food. It also avoids cross-contamination.
3. Let It Stay in Its Original Packaging
Do not open the original packaging of your raw ground beef until it is ready for cooking. Put it in your fridge or freezer as soon as possible after purchase. Ground beef will last 1-2 days in the fridge and 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
When picking your ground beef from the store, choose a packaging that is cold to the touch. The packaging should be intact with no rips or tears, and the meat should look bright red.
4. Use Proper Storage Containers
If you’re thawing frozen ground beef in the refrigerator, make sure that it is in a container so that its juices won’t drip on anything inside the fridge. Also, label your ground beef with the date of purchase before storing it in the freezer. Always use the earliest purchased ground beef.
As a space-saving storage tip, store portions of ground beef in zip lock bags. To flatten it out, use a rolling pin. However, avoid using the rolling pin back and forth too many times. Flattening it once or twice will be enough.
Also, don’t forget to release excess air before storing it to make stacking easier in the freezer. Stacking will also make the bags more accessible to pull out when you’re ready to cook.
Remember that if you’re storing ground beef in the freezer, you will need to wrap its original packaging. You can use heavy-duty aluminum foil, heavy-duty cling wrap, or a freezer-safe bag.
5. Follow Easy Thawing Techniques
Thawing your ground beef will be quicker and easier if you stored it in freezer-safe bags and rolled out thin. Frozen food thaws out much faster if you have more surface area. It will be an advantage when you’re in a hurry to prepare dinner.
To thaw your ground beef, leave it in a bowl of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Another thawing method you can try is by using your microwave. Place the frozen meat inside the microwave and thaw it for about 5 minutes.
6. Refrigerate or Freeze According to Use
Cooked ground beef will be safe to consume within 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Freeze cooked ground beef if you want to store it for an extended period. It will last up to four months in the freezer.
Larger cuts of beef like shanks, cubes, and steaks can be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator. Follow the given tips above when storing these beef cuts to avoid cross-contamination in the fridge.
How to Tell If Raw Ground Beef Is Spoiled
So, before you cook up that awesome recipe with ground beef, check if the meat is still fine to use. We only want to use fresh, properly stored raw ground beef to avoid foodborne illnesses. But how can you tell if ground beef is spoiled?
If you’ve followed our tips regarding the proper storage of raw ground beef, your meat should be okay. But remember, raw ground beef can only last for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. You can keep it longer, up to four months, in the freezer.
Here are a few things you should do to check if your raw ground beef is still okay to cook and consume:
Inspect your raw ground beef and check its color. Raw ground beef should be bright red. If some parts of your ground beef are brown, that’s fine as beef develops a brownish tint when it lacks oxygen. However, if your raw ground beef has turned gray, then it is spoiled, and you’ll need to discard all of it.
Smell your raw ground beef. Fresh ground beef has a mild iron smell. If it is starting to spoil, it will have a sour, rotten smell. This smell comes from gases emitted by bacteria that have grown in the beef. If the meat smells bad or if you have doubts about its freshness, throw it away.
Touch your raw ground beef. Fresh and raw ground beef is smooth, moist, and cool when you touch it. Chunks of meat should easily break apart when you touch it. Ground beef that is starting to go bad will feel sticky and has slime. Also, it won’t break apart easily and feels tacky.
If you notice any negative signs in your raw ground beef, discard it. Never risk of trying to cook it. Ingesting even a little spoiled beef can give you a foodborne illness.
Use a pair of gloves to handle spoiled meat. Place the spoiled meat in a small plastic bag and tie it up before throwing it away in the trash. Make sure to wash your hands and everything that comes in contact with the spoiled meat to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria.
Conclusion – How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge? (Raw)
So, to answer the initial question: “How long does raw ground beef last in the fridge?” Raw ground beef will last for 1-2 days in the refrigerator if stored properly. Your refrigerator should also have a consistent temperature of 40°F while storing it.
Keep the ground beef in its original packaging. Then place it to another container or bowl at the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid dripping and contamination of other items.
If you’re not going to cook your ground beef within two days, you should store it in the freezer, where it will last longer. Ground beef can last up to four months in the freezer. Follow the tips discussed above to have fresh ground beef every time.