Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D. — composed by Jenny Splitter — update on July 31, 2020

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As the long days that summer arrive, you might imagine yourself carrying overflowing platters of hot dogs and also juicy burgers at the next large family cookout.

And summer is a time because that relaxation and time v loved ones. Yet with increasing temperatures and outdoor gatherings lasting from morning come night, it’s certainly not a time to relax those important, science-based safety and security standards because that food.

Each year, 48 million civilization fall noble from food poisoning, whether in a restaurant or in their own home, approximates the Centers for disease Control and Prevention.

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It’s not entirely clear how many of these instances occur in the home specifically. Researcher say it might be anywhere as low together 12 percent to together high as 80 percent. But no issue the statistic, it’s as much as you to safely store and handle your food in ~ home.

According to the U.S. Room of agriculture (USDA) guidelines for refrigeration and food safety, there are two kinds of bacteria the can prosper on your food:

Pathogenic bacteria. this are particularly dangerous as they cause foodborne illness. They grow rapidly in unrefrigerated foods and also can’t commonly be recognize by how a food looks, tastes, or smells. Spoilage bacteria. this develop and also grow as food spoils. Castle do change the taste, look, and smell of her food. However, they’re far less most likely to in reality make girlfriend sick.

In either case, following the rule of for sure food storage will help keep the food friend eat both delicious and safe.

So, if you’ve been wondering how long you can keep the steak in the fridge or even if it is that can of tuna in her cabinet is still an excellent enough for her casserole, we’ve gained you covered. From freezer and also fridge come canned foods in the cupboard, we’ve outlined the rule for for sure food storage of beef, pork, poultry, and fish, all gradually for your next set of leftovers.

Whatever the meat — beef, chicken, pork, or fish — there’s no question around it: You can safely save your food the longest in the freezer. That’s because you can safely freeze meats indefinitely.

According to USDA accuse on freezing and also food safety, freeze these foods items to 0°F (-18°C) inactivates microbes favor bacteria, yeasts, and also mold and slows enzyme task — all of the stuff that can cause your food to walk bad.

The an excellent news is no an intricate vacuum sealer is required to safely frozen meat. However, sealing out moisture definitely does aid keep these foods items tasting fresh for longer when you ultimately defrost and also cook them.

So while you deserve to safely keep these foods items in their initial packaging, the USDA recommends that you include another great of plastic pave or foil before plunging her meats right into the frozen abyss. That extra great will assist keep the end moisture and also keep those foods tasting fresh. Freezing meats when they’re as fresh as feasible also helps keep taste and nutrients.

You can also safely refreeze thawed meats the you don’t finish up cooking. This assumes you s them properly to start with (more on the later).

According come USDA guidelines, however, nothing refreeze foods items left exterior the frozen fridge for longer than two hrs or one hour in temperatures over 90°F (32°C).

Despite your freezer’s capacity to store meats and fish because that a millennium, you most likely shouldn’t store these foods items in your freezer for quite that lengthy (unless you gain eating meat that tastes of shoe leather). Freezing her uncooked meats and fish is a safe practice, however at some point, it’s no longer a tasty one. It’s vital to take into consideration the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) and also USDA recommended time borders for freezing cuts of meat and seafood.

Whether you follow those time limits or save these foodstuffs frozen for lot longer, the freezer will always be her safest bet. Life meats and also fish will always last longer in the freezer than they do in the fridge.

In addition to food warehouse guidelines, it’s just as crucial that friend take care in defrosting these foodstuffs once you take it them the end of the freezer. USDA indict on for sure defrosting say you must only thaw frozen meats in the fridge or in a leakproof plastic bag submerged in cold water. That’s due to the fact that defrosting those foodstuffs at room temperature permits bacteria to prosper too rapidly.

And as you defrost those frosty meats in the fridge, you additionally want to make certain they don’t drip on noþeles else together they thaw out. The exact same goes for marinating raw meat in the fridge. Place the meat in a spanned dish to protect against spilling.

Beyond the freezer, box meats and fish additionally offer you a really long warehouse life: between two and also five years. This assumes you store these foods in suitable conditions.

Your alternatives for crate meats and also fish are more minimal than what you can store in your freezer or fridge, however. This is since canned meats and also fish have tendency to come in a very details format, choose Spam, a believe of anchovies, or canned tuna fish.

Canning entails a different process to keep your food safe and unspoiled. The food is cook to death bacteria then vacuum sealed to develop a sterile environment and also prohibit brand-new bacteria growth.

There room very couple of examples where the fridge is your best storage alternative over her freezer or canned foods items in her cupboard, yet these instances do exist. The FDA proposal you skip freezing all set meats that have actually been stuffed, for instance, and also only refrigerate those prior to cooking.

Also, the USDA states mayonnaise, cream sauces, and also lettuces don’t freeze well. Nothing freeze these foods or any kind of meats that have actually been prepared with them.


When it concerns most uncooked cuts of beef, you deserve to freeze castle for number of months there is no sacrificing quality.

According to the FDA, you deserve to keep cuts, choose roasts, frozen for anywhere from 4 to 12 months and also steaks because that 6 to 12 months. Ground beef need to be frozen for no more than three to 4 months.

Once cooked, friend can likewise safely frozen those beefy leftovers. Yet the FDA recommends you store these frozen because that only about two to three months. Again, this is completely a matter of quality. Meat can be kept much longer in the freezer than these guidelines espouse. But at that point, you may start to sacrifice quality.


If you desire to frozen a totality chicken or turkey, the great news is that frozen poultry have the right to keep for approximately one year without sacrificing much quality. The FDA says chicken components like thighs, breasts, or wings save well for up to nine months, however giblets have to be retained no much longer than three to four months. Ground chicken should probably be preserved for no much longer than 3 to four months together well.


For uncooked pork, freezer guidelines are comparable to beef. Roasts have the right to be maintained frozen for in between 4 and also 12 months. Chops are OK in the freezer for 4 to six months.

For cooked cuts of pork, the FDA recommends you keep these frozen for only two to three months to maximize quality.

When it comes to smoked and also processed pork like ham, warm dogs, bacon, and also lunch meats, the FDA proposal you just freeze these foods items for one to two months.


Recommendations for freezing seafood space a bit an ext complicated. Lean fish favor catfish or cod can be maintained frozen for 6 to eight months. Fat fish favor salmon must be maintained frozen for only two to 3 months.

Shellfish like shrimp and other seafood like scallops have the right to be retained frozen for three to six months. Cooked fish need to be kept frozen because that no longer than four to 6 months. And smoked fish need to only be maintained frozen for two months before sacrificing taste.


Most uncooked meat, regardless of cut, deserve to be save in the refrigerator for 3 to five days. However there are absolutely exceptions. Floor meat and also offal choose liver and kidneys should only be preserved in the fridge for one to 2 days. Leftovers containing cooking meat have to be preserved for no longer than three to 4 days prior to tossing.


Raw poultry, whether whole, components like breasts or thighs, or ground giblets or meat, can only be retained for one to 2 days in the fridge. But, when cooked, you get a little of an extension. The FDA claims you deserve to keep cooked poultry in the refrigerator for three to 4 days.


Fresh, uncooked pork have the right to be refrigerated about as lengthy as other meats: 3 to five days. This is nevertheless of whether it’s a roast or pork chops. Raw ground pork should also only be maintained in the refrigerator for one to 2 days. Once cooked, pork dishes have to be retained for 2 to 3 days in the fridge before tossing.

The indict are various for handle pork products. Unopened packages of hot dogs and lunch meat can be preserved for two weeks. When those packages room opened, only keep warm dogs for a week and also luncheon meat for three to five days.

Only store bacon for 7 days. The same goes because that a whole, cook ham. But for fifty percent a ham, you have the right to refrigerate it for three to five days. Ham slices can be maintained in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.


Lean or fat fish and also shellfish can only it is in refrigerated for one to 2 days before needing to toss. You have the right to keep cooking fish leftovers for three to four days. Acting fish, top top the other hand, deserve to be maintained longer. You have the right to safely refrigerate it for 14 days. As soon as opened, crate fish prefer tuna deserve to be safe refrigerated for three to four days.

In the civilization of for sure food storage, crate food is a genuine boon. It provides numerous affordable and also long-lasting options. Follow to USDA guidelines, you can keep canned food for 2 to five years, whether it’s fish, poultry, pork, or beef.

Commercially canned food is put in a sterile, vacuum-sealed container and heat processed at 250°F (121°C). This process kills microorganisms, halts enzymes from forming, and also prevents new bacteria native entering the stored food.

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Things can, however, go wrong. Occasionally canned food can be damaged during the manufacturing process or come to be badly rusted. If her canned food is greatly rusted or damaged, you’ll definitely want come discard it. You’ll also want to get rid of any canned food it is bulging or smells bad. It might be a sign of C. Botulinum, a bacterium the can reason a deadly type of food poisoning. Botulism is extremely rare, particularly in commercially canned foods. But there’s a threat of it occurring in foodstuffs canned improperly at home.

Once in your home, you’ll absolutely want to make sure to keep canned food properly. That means keeping box food somewhere it is cool, dry, and also dark, ideally below 85°F (29°C) and no greater than 100°F (38°C). Never ever keep canned food what that’s damp or hot, choose under the sink or alongside the stove.

Once you open canned food, bacteria can start to grow, so you’ll desire to quickly refrigerate and store any type of unused portion. According to the USDA, you deserve to safely placed your leftover crate food right into the fridge. In stimulate to maintain taste and also flavor, the recommended the you refrigerate any unused section in a separate, clean warehouse container.

You can also freeze unused canned seafood in a ideal storage container because that up to two months.

Jenny Splitter is a writer and also storyteller based in Washington, D.C. She contributes science, food, and also health story to outlets prefer The Washington Post, new York Magazine, mental Floss, and also Slate, and the science communication project SciMoms. She also appears in the “Science Moms” documentary and also is the story director for the D.C.-based immersive experience company TBD Immersive. She performs her very own true, occasionally embarrassing stories around herself on phase for audience at the 9:30 Club, the nationwide Gallery of Art, and the Birchmere. In her spare time, she carves ice sculptures and grows heirloom wheat. Simply kidding, she has two kids.