Pork is delicious, nutritious, and can be used in many recipes. But like any food, you should not let it sit in the fridge for too long. In this article, I’ll describe how long pork lasts in the fridge so that you are kept safe.
How long does pork last in the fridge? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw pork chops can be kept in a fridge for 3 to 5 days. Raw ground pork lasts about 1 to 2 days in the fridge. This is assuming the pork is packaged and sealed, and the fridge has a proper temperature of 40° F (4° C).
Cooked pork – whether it is cooked pork chops or cooked ground pork – can be kept in a fridge for about 3 to 4 days.
If you don’t plan on cooking raw pork right away or don’t plan on eating cooked pork right away, you can wrap it well and store it in the freezer. Raw or cooked pork lasts approximately 4 to 6 months in the freezer.
Read on to learn more about how long pork can be kept in the fridge, including important tips for its handling and storage.
How Long Does Pork Last in the Fridge? Raw and Cooked
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS), the consumption of pork in the United States, per capita, is expected to increase up to 51 pounds. Pork is the third most popular meat in the U.S. (behind beef and poultry at the top). In the whole world, pork is, on average, the most popular meat.
With so many people eating pork, it is important that you know how long pork will keep in the fridge before it spoils.
If you keep the temperature inside your fridge constantly at 40°F (4.44°C), fresh or raw pork chops will last for 3 to 5 days. Fresh or raw ground pork has a shorter life, lasting about 1 to 2 days in the fridge.
It is important to remember that these time estimates depend heavily on the refrigerator’s ability to maintain the required temperature. If the fridge temperature often fluctuates or increases, it will shorten the number of days for pork storage.
Cooked pork meat will last around 3 to 4 days, depending on the refrigerator’s temperature. If you think you can’t eat cooked pork within 4 or maybe 5 days, it is better to store it inside the freezer. It will be good for another two to three months if you don’t move it out of the freezer.
If you want more detailed estimates regarding the time you can keep pork chops inside your fridge, consider the following information:
1. How Long Will Raw Pork Last After Its ‘Sell-by’ Date?
The 3 to 4 days recommendation is after the meat’s sell-by-date. On the label in the store, the pork should have a sticker that shows its sell-by-date. The meat can go 3-4 days in the fridge beyond its ‘sell-by’ date period, and still be edible if you store it properly.
2. How Long Will Raw Pork Last in the Freezer?
If properly packed and stored, raw pork can be kept frozen for around 4 to 6 months. Beyond that time, it can still be safe to eat, although the texture and flavor will be much worse.
3. How Long Will Raw Pork Last After Freezing and Thawing?
Defrosted or thawed pork meat can last for another 3 to 5 days inside the fridge. But if you use cold water at room temperature or the microwave to thaw raw pork, you should cook it right away.
4. How Long Will Cooked Pork Meat Last in the Fridge?
Cooked pork, placed inside the refrigerator, will last for 3 to 4 days. If placed inside the freezer, it can last four months.
5. How Long Will Raw Pork Last If Frozen at 0°F?
At 0°F, pork can last indefinitely, as long as you keep the freezer temperature at constant 0°F.
Extend the shelf life of raw pork beyond the date indicated on its package by overwrapping the original pork packaging with airtight plastic wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil, or freezer paper.
You can also put the original packaging inside a heavy-duty freezer bag. This technique will prevent raw pork from experiencing freezer burn.
6. How Long Can You Leave Raw Pork Meat at Room Temperature Before It Spoils?
Room temperature can be somewhere between 40°F and 140°F. At this temperature range, bacteria multiply rapidly. So, if you forget and leave raw pork outside of the refrigerator for over two hours, you should discard it. It is already harboring hundreds, if not thousands, of pathogens.
You can extend the shelf life of raw pork almost indefinitely by freezing it. Do this before its normal refrigerator shelf life is over, preferably right after arriving home from the store.
7. How Can You Maximize Raw Pork Shelf Life?
To maximize the shelf life of raw pork, keep it in the original packaging. Store it in the fridge and only open it when you are ready to cook.
8. How Long Does Cooked Pork Last in the Fridge?
If you wrap and store cooked pork properly in the fridge, it will last for 3 to 5 days.
For whole cuts of pork meat like roasts and chops, you should cook at a minimum temperature of 145°F. You should cook ground pork at a minimum of 160°F. Moreover, never store partially cooked pork in the refrigerator because bacteria may still be in the food.
9. How Can You Maximize Cooked Pork Shelf Life?
Place cooked pork in an airtight container, heavy-duty plastic bag, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap before putting it inside the fridge.
10. How Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Cooked Pork?
Place cooked pork in an airtight container, aluminum foil, or heavy-duty plastic bag, and then store it in the freezer.
11. How Long Will Cooked Pork Last After Freezing and Thawing?
If you thawed cooked pork inside the fridge, it would last for another 3 to 4 days. If you use a microwave or cold water to thaw cooked pork, you should consume it immediately.
12. How Long Will Cooked Pork Last in the Freezer?
If you store it properly, cooked pork will remain at its best quality for around 2 to 3 months. Beyond that time, it is still safe to eat.
13. How Long Will Cooked Pork Last at Room Temperature?
Room temperature starts between 40°F and 140°F. At that temperature range, bacteria multiply fast. If you leave cooked pork at room temperature for over two hours, you should throw it away.
14. How Can You Store Cooked Pork and Still Get Its Best Quality?
Store it in the freezer for no more than 2 to 3 months. It will still be safe to consume after this period, but its texture and taste may be unpleasant.
We’ve answered the question ‘how long will pork last in the fridge’; next, let’s look at how to tell if raw pork is spoiled.
How to Tell If Raw Pork Is Spoiled?
Don’t ignore your senses when checking if pork meat is stale or not. Your visual and other sensory abilities can tell you that something is wrong with the food in front of you. You can’t see pathogenic bacteria, but you can see their effects.
The USDA provides guidelines for refrigeration and food safety. It says that two kinds of bacteria can grow and contaminate your food. They are as follows:
- Pathogenic Bacteria – These bacteria are dangerous since they cause foodborne sickness. They are not easily detected just by smelling, tasting, or by observation. If the food remains unrefrigerated, bacteria will rapidly grow.
- Spoilage Bacteria – These bacteria develop and multiply as the food spoils. They are responsible for the food’s changes in smell, taste, and looks. However, they are not really the type of bacteria that make you sick.
Below are three food safety signs that will tell you if raw pork is already spoiled:
1. It Has Changed in Color
The original color of pork flesh is pinkish. If it turns gray or brown, it is already bad.
2. It Emits a Sour Smell
It is very common for fresh pork to smell bad when it changes its color. The smell would be like spoiled eggs, ammonia, or sulfur. If that happens, raw pork is already stale.
3. It Is Slimy
The texture of good raw pork is not sticky. When you touch the raw pork, it doesn’t stick to your fingers. The flesh of spoiled raw pork tends to be sticky. If you touch it and it sticks, throw the meat away.
How to Tell If Frozen Pork Is Spoiled?
The process of freezing draws away moisture from the raw pork. Given enough time, this moisture will freeze, and the frost will accumulate outside of the meat. That’s the frost you see clinging outside the pork and in the plastic wrapper.
You can determine if the frozen pork is already spoiled if you will check the following:
1. Ice Crystals or Frost Has Already Formed Inside the Packaging
When white ice crystals have already formed inside the packaging, you can be sure that the frozen pork has already been subjected to freezer burn. It is still technically safe to eat. But it has already lost most of its moisture. When you finally cook it, its taste and texture can be unsatisfying.
2. Slimy Once Thawed
When the flesh of pork meat becomes slimy or sticky, that means that piece of pork has been frozen for too long. Good pork meat should feel tender but not sticky.
3. Its Color Has Changed
There should still be red streaks in raw pork meat. But if what you see are streaks of grayish brown, with some gray or dark brown spots, then that pork has overstayed in your freezer. It is still generally safe to eat, but it won’t taste like fresh pork meat. The meat will be leathery and dry at the very least.
4. The Smell Is Off If Not Rancid
You can’t smell spoiled frozen food until you thaw it. But once thawed, the smell will be off, rancid even. It is better to throw it away.
How to Tell If Cooked Pork in the Fridge Is Bad?
Even if you store cooked food in the fridge, you are not 100 percent sure that it will stay good for a time. There are spoilage bacteria that can survive the heat from cooking. Other germs can contaminate the food while handling it. Here are some indications if cooked pork in the fridge is still edible.
1. The Presence of Mold in the Meat
If you see layers of mold covering the cooked pork, you can’t eat it. Throw the whole thing away. Some have the wrong notion that it is fine to cut out the parts that have molds. Avoid doing this because you’ll never know if the mold has contaminated other parts.
2. Its Texture Is Sticky
If there is a slimy film covering the meat, it has already gone bad. Don’t even try to taste it to see if it’s still good. Those slimy substances are actually microorganisms that have already multiplied in the meat.
3. Its Color Is No Longer Pinkish but Grayish or Brown
A change in color is not necessarily bad. Pork flesh, when exposed to heat, changes its color. However, if the color change is accompanied by other signs described in this article, the meat is already spoiled.
4. The Texture Has Changed
If you notice a texture change of the meat, that’s a clear sign that something wrong is going underneath it. It is better to throw it in the trash.
5. Foul Odor
If the meat is emitting a rancid smell or other foul odors, don’t eat it. Again, the smell is due to the rapid growth of microorganisms that spoiled the meat.
How Long Can You Store Pork to Retain Its Best Quality?
Below are three tips on how long you can store pork to maintain its best quality.
1. Uncooked Pork
Pork chops inside the freezer will still be good for 4 to 6 months. Roasts should be stored in the freezer, and they will maintain their best quality for 4 to 12 months.
2. Pork Cuts, Uncooked
The FDA recommends that pork cuts should only be frozen for 2 to 3 months.
3. Processed Pork
The FDA’s recommendation is to freeze processed pork, such as bacon, ham, lunch meats, and hot dogs, for only 1 to 2 months to retain its best quality.
What Can Happen If You Eat Spoiled Pork?
Food poisoning is one of the possibilities if you eat spoiled pork. The symptoms may include nausea, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Yes, many types of bad bacteria can be killed when spoiled pork is cooked thoroughly. While cooking spoiled pork does not guarantee that you will get sick, it is better to be cautious and just toss it if in doubt.
Conclusion – How Long Is Pork Good for in the Fridge – Raw and Cooked
So, to recap, how long can pork last in the fridge? You can keep pre-packed and sealed fresh pork chops inside the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Raw ground pork can last for 1 to 2 days in the fridge.
If you don’t plan to cook the pork right away, wrap it well and store it in the freezer. The pork will last in the freezer for about 4 to 6 months.
Cooked pork – whether it is cooked pork chops or cooked ground pork – can be kept in a fridge for about 3 to 4 days.