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Food Safety: Storing

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Storing food promptly and correctly can help prevent food poisoning.

If the food label has a "use by" date, try to eat the food by that date. If that date has passed, it doesn't mean the food is no longer safe. But check it carefully before eating it for any signs that it has spoiled. If the food smells, feels, or looks strange, throw it away.

If it has no date or only a "sell by" date, use the following table. It tells you how long you should keep some popular foods in the refrigerator or freezer. If you follow the recommended refrigeration time, you will ensure that food is safe and doesn't spoil. Freezing food keeps it safe for as long as it is frozen, so the recommended freezer-storage times are only to ensure highest quality.

Recommended refrigeration times 1

Product

Can refrigerate for:

Can freeze for:

Bacon

7 days

1 month

Beef, ground

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Beef, steaks and roasts

3 to 5 days

4 to 12 months

Cheese, processed or brick

3 to 4 weeks

Can be frozen, but affects taste and texture

Chicken, breasts or legs

1 to 2 days

9 months

Chicken, giblets

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Chicken, whole

1 to 2 days

12 months

Eggs, fresh

3 to 5 weeks

Do not freeze

Eggs, hard boiled

1 week

Do not freeze well

Fish, fatty (salmon, perch, other)

1 to 2 days

2 to 3 months

Fish, lean (cod, flounder, other)

1 to 2 days

Up to 6 months

Gravy

1 to 2 days

2 to 3 months

Ice cream, ice milk

Do not refrigerate

2 to 4 months

Lunch meat, opened package

3 to 5 days

1 to 2 months

Lunch meat, unopened package

2 weeks

1 to 2 months

Mayonnaise

2 months

Do not freeze

Milk

7 days

1 month

Pizza, cooked

3 to 4 days

1 to 2 months

Pork, chops

3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months

Pork, ground

1 to 2 days

3 to 4 months

Pork, roasts

3 to 5 days

4 to 6 months

Sausage

1 to 2 days

1 to 2 months

Soups, stews (with vegetables or meat)

3 to 4 days

2 to 3 months


References

Citations

  1. FoodSafety (2017). Storage times for the refrigerator and freezer. FoodSafety. https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html. Accessed February 3, 2017.

Credits for Food Safety: Storing

Current as of: September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine


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