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How Long Can Lunch Meat Stay Out Of The Fridge

How Long Can Lunch Meat Stay Out Of The Fridge

How Long Can Lunch Meat Stay Out Of The Fridge

Lunch meat can stay out of the refrigerator for about 2 hours. But it really depends on the nature of the lunch meat. It may not be safe to eat lunch meat left out overnight. If they are stored in the refrigerator, they can last for 1 to 2 days. 

Packaged lunch meat stays fresh in a fridge for between three to five days after opening, according to the U.S. Department of Agricultures Food Safety and Inspection Service. Once you have opened your package of lunch meat, or bought your sliced lunch meat from the deli, you can store it refrigerated for three to five days. When refrigerated, lunch meats can also last up to five days, though you are not advised to keep them much longer than 72 hours just to make sure they are safe to eat.

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Once you have opened your lunch meat package, or purchased your lunch meat cut up at the deli, you will want to store them in the refrigerator for three to five days after you have opened it. Never store cooked and uncooked meats in the same container, and after you open a package, use the meats within three to five days, or by its expiration date, whichever is earlier. Fresh, pre-packaged deli meats that are not opened and are not past their use-by date or expiration date may keep for up to two weeks in the fridge, while opened packages will keep for around a week after they are opened.

TemperatureShelf life
At room temperature2 hours
In refrigerator1-2 days
Temperature and Shelf life of Lunch Meat.

Most pre-packaged deli meats will last about one week in the fridge, but they should never sit at room temperature for more than a couple of hours. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that deli meats should never sit at room temperature for more than two hours at a time. If you are not sure whether meats are allowed to remain at room temperature, keep them refrigerated, and use the two-hour rule for times they are left at room temperature. You should consult your manufacturersSafe handling instructions to see if your processed meats can remain at room temperature, and when you should store them in the refrigerator.

Find out how long can food be left out

Many may be allowed to remain at room temperature overnight with no consumer risks, as dried-cured meats contain salt or other drier, acidic ingredients applied to help the meat drier. That said, most manufacturers will recommend dry-cured meats be kept refrigerated once the package is opened, to avoid developing moisture and exposure to bacteria. Dry-cured meats from deli counters, such as salami and pepperoni, can last for up to six weeks when not opened, and about three weeks when kept refrigerated. Deli meat products, including hamburgers, should never sit out at room temperature for more than two hours, because the bacteria that grow on deli meats can lead to food poisoning.

Bacteria rapidly grow in temperatures of 40degF to 140degF; if deli meats are left out at room temperature for longer than two hours, they should be discarded.

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Cooked turkey left outside for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperature is above 90 degF) is considered undercooked. Because germs from foodborne illnesses begin to form on meat stored at temperatures of 40-140deg F, it is recommended not to keep a cooked turkey outside of the refrigerator for more than two hours at a time. Eating leftover lunch meat left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours is dangerous, as germs quickly grow at room temperature, and can most likely cause it to go bad. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has warned that eating some types of foods, like fresh cuts of meat and lunch meat, which may have been left outside at room temperature for more than two hours is hazardous.

If ambient temperatures are around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of rotting takes place quickly, and lunch meats which have been left in the open for more than one hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit are recommended to be discarded. You should discard the lunch meat that has been left in the open for more than 2 hours because the growth of bacteria takes place at a faster rate at temperatures of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit, so the chances are high that lunch meat is already infected with bacteria by leaving it outside for more than 2 hours.

If deli meat has become hot, an ice pack has fully melted, or if the covered lunchbox has been sitting out in the sun for hours, do not take the risk of eating the meat. If meat at your deli has turned rubbery, slimy, or falls apart rapidly, it is time to toss it. To keep it from happening, tightly wrap meat in plastic wrap, or put the meat in resealable plastic bags.

If the opened meat package does not have a cover, put meat into a zipper-lock bag or container to prevent cross-contamination. For an opened meat package to remain in the original package, you are generally better off keeping it in the fridge. While unsealed packages of meat from the grocery store may remain in their original packaging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends only keeping them refrigerated for two weeks before eating.

Following the guidelines in the previous sections, you can safely consume deli meat for up to three to five days past its printed shelf-life if you have opened it, and for up to five or six days past its written shelf-life if you leave it unopened. Keep deli meats made with turkey in an airtight container, or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap or foil, after opening, to help ensure the longest shelf life. Deli counter meats typically have less preservatives than meats pre-packaged, so they will not last as long in your refrigerator.

If the meat is sitting on the deli counter too long, or if it is mid-summer and it takes you an hour to drive back home with your groceries, then the meat may not hold up as well over the mentioned timeframe. Slices that are fresh off the counter in cold cuts can keep 1-3 days if stored properly; if not, they go bad. If stored outside of a cooler, at room temperature, a sandwich is no longer safe for up to 4 hours, depending on room temperature.

The 2-hour/4-hour rule means if the sandwich has been left out for 2 hours or less, it is fine to put in the fridge and keep it for later. Cold cuts like ham, salami, bologna, pepperoni, and other processed meats can last for three days in a cooler. Food safety regulations differ between countries, but in general, foods must be kept at a safe temperature for a period of time before they are sold.

Does lunch meat have to be refrigerated?

Customers can find things like Parmesan cheese and packages of salami at room temperature in grocery stores because of these factors. But to stop the growth of disease-causing bacteria, some softer and semi-soft cheeses and meats, like lunch meat and ring bologna, must be refrigerated.

How can you tell if deli meat is bad?

Throw the meat aside if it has a film on the outside and is incredibly slimy. Throw away the turkey, pastrami, or ham if there are any strange or off-smelling vinegar, ammonia, or yeast odors. It should go without saying that you should throw away any meat or packaging that has mold or other growths on it right away.

Can frozen lunch meat go bad?

In contrast to uncooked ground beef, which should be discarded after only four months, uncooked roasts, steaks, and chops should be discarded after a year in the freezer. While waiting, cooked, frozen meat should be thrown away after three months.