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How Long Does Lunch Meat Last

How Long Does Lunch Meat Last

Lunch meat can last for up to 4 days in the fridge if stored properly. If unopened, it can remain in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks but it’s best to consume them as soon as possible. Luncheon meat can be kept in refrigeration to maintain its freshness. 

If you would like to freeze this type of lunch meat, you have two options: You either go with freezing it whole, unopened, in the original packaging, or you can follow the instructions above for opening and freezing in smaller portions.

Keeping your meat in the refrigerator will keep it about 3-5 days after opening, but if you want to freeze it, you can keep your lunch meat conveniently up to a month. The USDA advises that you keep opened packages of deli meat only in the refrigerator for only three to five days before throwing them away. If you have had sliced or diced deli meat packages in your cooler for longer than four to five days, it is probably time for them to go. If you opened your packages, you should use your deli meats within one week, no matter what their “use-by” or “best-by” dates are.

Fresh, pre-packaged, unopened deli meats that are not past their use-by or best-by dates may keep for up to two weeks in your cooler, while opened packages will keep for around a week after opening. Pre-packaged deli meats last for two weeks, and they last a day or two after their printed dates. Properly stored, an opened turkey deli meat package lasts for five to seven days in the fridge. To maximize shelf life of turkey deli meat once opened, keep it refrigerated in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil.

Wrap luncheon meat tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then store it in a sealable bag, insulated freezer bag, or in an airtight container. Do not think only of the luncheon meat, but also roast it (just in case it starts going bad) and throw it into an egg sandwich.

Storage PlacesShelf Life
Fridge3-5 days
Freezer1-2 months
Room Temperature2 hours
Air tight Container3-7 days
Shelf life of lunch meat in different storage places.

In that case, you could simply pop the meat into the freezer once you have taken the meat out of the freezer, and put it on a plate the night before you want to use it. Once you have opened the package, or you have sliced the meat from the counter of a deli, you can store it in the refrigerator for three to five days. Cold cuts quickly lose their freshness after being sliced, so you are better off keeping it for just three to five days, and packaged meats also keep for this amount of time once opened. You can keep lunch meats in the fridge for up to five days once opened, or cut up in the deli, or in the packaged form.

Preservatives included in the meat, which we discussed in a previous section, help to keep the lunch meats fresh for about five days after you open them and properly store them in a cooler. Boxed, sealed lunch meats have longer shelf lives, as they are more processed and designed for longer storage. The USDA recommends that packaged lunch meats stay in the fridge no longer than two weeks before being opened.

You can store packaged lunch meats like sausage, pepperoni, bologna, and others for up to three months when they are packed correctly. You can eat lunch meats purchased in sealed, factory-sealed packages until they are marked with their use-by date or expiration. The expiration dates will vary as well depending on whether you bought luncheon meat already packed in the box, or bought something fresh at a deli.

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Well, if you bought the meat at a supermarket, you will typically find the best-by date on the label. If you bought deli meat on packaging, it will typically have a best before date that you can use to determine how long it is going to be. The meat typically will last for a couple days longer than a best before date, although not many days. If your lunch meat is a meat that has high fat content, such as pepperoni or salami, you may get a couple extra days, but this is more the exception than the rule.

Sandwich meats with higher fat content, like pepperoni or salami, tend to freeze better than meatier ones, like turkey or chicken. Cured meats, such as salami, sausage, and bologna, tend to freeze better than other meats at a deli counter. Deli counter meats typically contain less preservatives than meats that are pre-packaged, so they will not hold up quite as well in the refrigerator.

Dry-cured deli meats, such as salami and pepperoni, can last for up to six weeks at room temperature if not opened, and about three weeks in the refrigerator. You cannot keep dry-cured (cold) meats in your pantry, whereas most are edible within one and two weeks if stored in your refrigerator. While you can store certain types of Deli meats in the freezer for a half-year, you would better use it within one or two months. If you are buying meat ahead of time, according to UK food safety guidelines, you can store uncooked turkeys in the fridge for a week or two.

If you are unsure whether meat can remain at room temperature, keep it in the fridge, and use the two-hour rule if you are leaving it at room temperature. By freezing an unopened meat package rather than refrigerating, you may be able to increase the shelf life. If the packaging has a shelf-life date, you can expect that sliced meat will remain fresh for seven to 10 days after opening or not.

Some stores carry meat already cut, others just cut when you order, and the presumably lasts longer in your house. The most popular types of meat sold fresh, packaged in cases in delis are cut-up meats such as ham, turkey, and chicken. When walking through a grocery stores meat department, you will see dozens of types of meats that are available for your next charcuterie board or sandwich from a deli.

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Food safety guidelines say deli meats are safe to eat for five days after they are opened, or five to six days past their expiration dates, as long as they were not opened. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes it is hazardous to eat cuts, slices, sliced meats from deli counters, cooked foods, and chopped vegetables that have been allowed to sit out at room temperature for two hours or longer (or for one hour above 90degF).

Can you eat lunch meat after 7 days?

You can consume unopened lunch meat after seven to ten days beyond the expiration date. However, it must be finished within five days if it is an opened meat package. It should be immediately discarded if it develops a sour smell or a bitter taste if eaten beyond the sell-by date.

How do you know if lunch meat has gone bad?

If it is an opened package of lunch meat, you should eat it within the next 3-5 days. If you notice the meat appears slimy with a layer of film forming outside, you should immediately discard it. The stale smell of yeast is also a sign that you should throw away the lunch meat.

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