As we stock up on groceries for the winter, it’s important to know how long our food will last in the fridge. When it comes to fresh beef, there are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure that you and your family stay safe.
From steaks to ground beef, the FDA provides guidelines on how long you can safely store your meat in the fridge or freezer. In this article, we’ll break down those guidelines and provide tips on how to tell if your beef has gone bad.
So, let’s dive in and learn how long fresh beef lasts in the fridge!
How Long Does Fresh Beef Last In The Fridge?
According to the FDA, fresh beef can last in the fridge for anywhere between three to five days. This applies to steaks and roasts, but ground raw beef, raw hamburgers, or raw stew meats should only be kept in the fridge for one to two days. If you have any beefy leftovers, they can be kept fresh for three to four days in the fridge.
It’s important to note that these guidelines are just that – guidelines. The sell-by dates on packaging are more of a reference for stores than for consumers, and they regard quality more than the safety of the food. So, it’s always best to use your own judgement and senses when determining if your beef has gone bad.
How To Properly Store Fresh Beef To Maximize Its Shelf Life
To maximize the shelf life of fresh beef, it’s crucial to store it properly. When storing beef in the fridge, it’s important to keep its temperature between 38F to 40F (3.3C to 4.4C). Always store fresh meats covered and on a separate fridge shelf from all other items. Familiarize yourself with your fridge settings in the owner’s manual to ensure you set your temperatures correctly. It is also a good idea to periodically test the internal temperature of your fridge with a digital thermometer to ensure accuracy and safety.
When storing fresh beef in the fridge, it is recommended to keep it in its original packaging if it is vacuum-sealed or tightly wrapped in butcher paper. If the packaging is not moisture- and vapor-proof, then it is best to rewrap it with airtight heavy-duty foil or freezer wrap using either drugstore wrap or butcher wrap. This will help prevent freezer burn in which the surface of the meat becomes light colored and dried out, resulting in a tough, dry, and less flavorful product.
If you want to freeze fresh beef directly in over-wrapped supermarket trays, it is safe to do so. However, this type of wrap is permeable to air, so for long-term storage, overwrap the packages with airtight heavy-duty foil or freezer wrap using either drugstore wrap or butcher wrap. This will help prevent freezer burn.
It’s important to press the air out of the package before freezing and label it for ease in selection for later use. Butcher paper is great for storing beef in the refrigerator for several days; however, if you want to freeze in butcher paper, drop the tightly wrapped paper package into a Ziploc bag to minimize exposure to air and moisture.
Remember that these guidelines are just that – guidelines. Always use your own judgement and senses when determining if your beef has gone bad. By following these tips, you can maximize the shelf life of your fresh beef and ensure that it stays fresh and flavorful for longer.
Signs That Your Fresh Beef Has Gone Bad And Should Be Discarded
Even with the guidelines mentioned above, it can sometimes be tricky to determine whether or not your fresh beef has gone bad. Here are some signs to look out for:
1. Mold: If you notice any mold on your beef, it’s time to wrap it up and toss it. Mold is a clear indication that the meat has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat.
2. Slimy texture: A slimy or slippery texture on your beef is another sign that it has gone bad. The surface of the meat will have a sheen to it, and the slime may have a yellowish hue when it catches the light. This slimy film is caused by a buildup of bacteria and is a sure sign that your beef has gone rancid and should be discarded.
3. Discoloration: While some discoloration in raw meat is expected, severe discoloration or anything outside of the normal range of colors for beef should be double-checked before you cook and eat it. If your beef has turned green or a greenish-brown color, it’s time to chuck the chuck, so to speak.
4. Unpleasant odor: Spoiled beef will have a distinct, pungent smell that will make your face scrunch up. If you open a package of beef and smell sour notes, spoiled eggs, or ammonia, you know that you’ve got bad beef.
5. Texture: Fresh ground beef should have a relatively firm consistency that breaks apart when you squeeze it. However, a sticky or slimy texture – either when cooked or raw – may indicate the presence of spoilage bacteria. If your ground beef has a sticky or slimy texture when raw or cooked, it has most likely gone bad.
How To Safely Thaw And Cook Fresh Beef To Prevent Foodborne Illness
Thawing and cooking fresh beef properly is crucial to prevent foodborne illness. Here are some tips to ensure your beef is safe to eat:
– Thaw beef in the refrigerator, on the bottom shelf or below ready-to-eat foods to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other foods.
– Allow approximately 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds when thawing a turkey in the refrigerator.
– Use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is consistently at or below 40°F (4°C).
– Thoroughly cook raw meat and poultry to destroy bacteria.
– Ground beef and hamburgers should be cooked until they are no longer pink in the middle.
– Using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature of meat can be used to ensure that it is cooked sufficiently to kill bacteria. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
– Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
Following these guidelines will help ensure that your fresh beef is safe to eat and free from harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.
The Benefits Of Buying Fresh Beef From A Reputable Source.
When it comes to buying fresh beef, it’s always best to go with a reputable source. Not only can you be sure that the meat is of high quality, but you’ll also have a better idea of how long it will last in your fridge. Local farmers or butchers who sell cuts of beef directly to consumers often have a better understanding of the meat they sell, including how it was raised and how long it has been aged. This information can be incredibly helpful when trying to determine how long your beef will stay fresh.
Additionally, buying from a reputable source means that you’ll be supporting small businesses and local agriculture. This can have a positive impact on your community, as well as the environment. Small farms often use sustainable farming practices, which can help reduce the carbon footprint of your food.