Can You Eat Frozen Meat Past Its Expiration Date
You should not eat meat after its expiration date, as most of the nutrients in it have already been lost to bacteria and other organisms. If it still looks fresh, maybe some warfare going inside it between chemicals and enzymes. It can lead to some serious problems like food poisoning.
It is usually safe to eat frozen foods past their expiration date, provided they were stored under constant temperatures of less than 0 degrees F. If food has been stored correctly and has not been exposed to contaminants, then it is very likely to be safe to eat, even past its expiration date. Frozen chicken (and all frozen foods) are safe to eat indefinitely, but they lose taste and flavour over the longer they are stored. Raw pieces of chicken can last in your freezer up to nine months, and whole chickens can last for up to one year.
For best quality, flavor, and texture, keep whole, raw chickens in the freezer up to one year; pieces, 9 months; and chicken giblets or Ground Chicken, 3 to 4 months. Fresh chicken, turkey, ground meat, and ground poultry should be cooked or frozen within 1 to 2 days after being purchased. Frozen ground meat lasts three to four months, while whole chickens or turkeys can be frozen for up to one year, according to FoodSafety.gov. According to USDA, raw ground meat is safe to store in a freezer for three to four months, while cooked ground meat is safe to store for two to three months.
Uncooked roasts, steaks, and cuts will last 4-12 months, uncooked ground meat is good for 3-4 months, and bacon and sausages are safe for 1 to 2 months. Depending on cut and type of meat, uncooked meats can keep frozen for 1-12 months, with high-quality preservation. Frozen meats may keep in the freezer longer, but it is best to check your “use-by” date to make sure. Yes, meat can stay frozen up to three years without causing a loss of quality or flavor.
The general consensus is that meat can survive 3-4 months in the freezer, but after that, it starts to deteriorate in quality. The quality of meat frozen for 4 years might not be the same as it was when it was first frozen, but it will still be safe to eat. The food may not be as fresh as when it was frozen just short, but it will still be safe to eat. Properly stored, food will retain its best qualities for 3 or 4 months, but it will still be safe past this period.
After purchasing pork chops, they can be stored in a refrigerator for 3 to 5 days–the sell-by date on the package can expire during this time of storage, but pork chops will still be safe for use beyond the sell-by date as long as properly stored. Although raw meats and poultry only last a few days in the refrigerator, you can store these items beyond the sell-by date as long as they are frozen. When freezing meat and poultry, it is best to store them in their original packaging, and then re-wrap them tightly in tin foil or freezer-grade plastic wrap. However, if you are planning on keeping your frozen meats or poultry in the original package for an extended time period (more than two months) or if you notice that there is a tear in the original wrapping, USDA notes you will need to either re-wrap the package in either airtight plastic wrap, freezer paper, or heavy-duty foil, or just put the package in a plastic bag.
|Uncooked roasts, steaks, and cuts||4-12 months|
|Uncooked ground meat||3-4 months|
|Sausages and bacon||1-2 months|
|Uncooked meats||1-12 months|
The USDA advises freezing your meats no longer than 12 months in order to preserve quality and safety, but studies have shown that you can freeze meats much longer than this without significant loss in quality or safety. Most foods ideal for freezing can remain frozen indefinitely, according to USDA. It is important that you use refrigerated or freezer-stable storage for meat products that are not shelf-stable. While prolonged storage in a freezer may impact the quality of any food, it is also important to note that raw meats and poultry retain quality for a much longer period than cooked meats and poultry.
The quality of the meat can diminish after a period of time, and extremely long freezing times may result in a notable change in quality and flavor in meat. It is important to note, however, that although foods stored consistently at 0degF will always be safe, quality of food after it is defrosted can still be affected over time. You can refreeze or cook defrosted frozen foods that still have ice crystals, or are 40 degrees F or lower, safely. Thawed or partially-thawed food in your freezer can safely be refrozen as long as the food has not gone above 40degF.
To learn about Can You Freeze Pepperoni, check out my other article where I cover things in detail.
To reiterate, because freezing food to 0degF or lower keeps it safe almost indefinitely, you are free to defrost and eat any frozen meat or poultry at any given time (if properly stored). Leftovers from soups, stews, casseroles, cooked meats and fish, and cooked beans, rice, and pasta can safely be frozen for extended periods. Some types of meats and meat products not suitable for long-term freezer storage include prepared meals and salads from the deli, including salads made with chicken, tuna, or ham, chicken breasts or pork chops pre-stuffed, and a variety of meals packaged in vacuum packs. Frozen storage times for meats may range from one to 12 months depending on the species (chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, beef) in terms of quality.
Processed pork — like bacon and sausages (whether pork, chicken, or turkey), hot dogs, and lunch meats — tastes best if kept frozen one to two months, whereas raw burgers, ground beef, and braised meats may go for three to four months. Frozen meat, depending on the size, takes at least one to two days to fully thaw in the fridge. According to www.fsis.usda.gov, cooking or freezing fresh poultry, fish, ground meat, and meats from different varieties should be done within two days after purchase, while beef, veal, lamb, and pork should be done three to five days later. You should not eat ground meat beyond the expiration date, unless it is frozen, in which case it may keep for up to four months (8).
To learn about Ground Beef Turning Brown, check out my other article where I cover things in detail.
You can store cuts, such as roasts, frozen anywhere from 4-12 months, and steaks from 6-12 months, according to FDA. Food frozen at peak quality tastes better when it is thawed than foods frozen closer to the end of their shelf life, according to USDA Food Safety Guidelines.
How long can frozen meat last after the expiration date?
Although raw meat and poultry only last a few days in the refrigerator, if you freeze them, you can keep these foods until their expiration date. A whole chicken or turkey can be kept for up to a year, while frozen ground meat will keep for three to four months, according to the study.
Can meat go bad if it’s frozen?
The meat in the freezer can go bad after a certain period of time. The best time to throw away frozen raw roasts, steaks, and chops is after a year, while ground beef should be discarded after only four months. A three-month expiration date should be followed for prepared frozen meat
When should you throw out frozen meat?
The best way to identify freezer burn is to inspect the meat for ice crystals on its surface, or for meat that appears shriveled or discolored. It is also advisable to throw away freezer-burned meat. Rancid meat has a putrid, tangy smell. As soon as it goes bad, it is no longer safe for consumption. Bacteria that cause spoilage change the scent as they grow