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

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As the lengthy days of summer arrive, you might imagine yourself moving overflowing platters of warm dogs and juicy burgers at the next big family cookout.

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

Each year, 48 million human being fall ailing from food poisoning, even if it is in a restaurant or in their own home, approximates the Centers for disease Control and Prevention.

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It’s not totally clear how many of these situations occur in the residence specifically. Researchers say it might be all over as low together 12 percent to as high as 80 percent. But no issue the statistic, it’s approximately you to safely store and also handle your food at home.

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

Pathogenic bacteria. these are especially dangerous as they reason foodborne illness. They prosper rapidly in unrefrigerated foods and can’t usually be recognize by exactly how a food looks, tastes, or smells. Spoilage bacteria. these develop and also grow as food spoils. Lock do readjust the taste, look, and also smell of your food. However, they’re far less most likely to actually make girlfriend sick.

In one of two people case, following the rule of safe food warehouse will help keep the food girlfriend eat both delicious and safe.

So, if you’ve to be wondering just how long you can keep that steak in the fridge or even if it is that can of tuna in your cabinet is still good enough for her casserole, we’ve obtained you covered. Indigenous freezer and fridge to canned foods in the cupboard, we’ve outlined the rule for for sure food warehouse of beef, pork, poultry, and also fish, all in time for your next collection of leftovers.

Whatever the meat — beef, chicken, pork, or fish — yes sir no question around it: You deserve to safely keep your food the longest in the freezer. That’s since you can safely freeze meat indefinitely.

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

The great news is no an elaborate vacuum sealer is compelled to safely freeze meat. However, sealing out moisture definitely does aid keep these foods tasting new for longer when you ultimately defrost and also cook them.

So while you can safely save these foodstuffs in their initial packaging, the USDA recommends the you add another great of plastic pave or foil before plunging her meats into the frozen abyss. The extra layer will assist keep the end moisture and also keep those foods items tasting fresh. Freezing meats as soon as they’re together fresh as possible also helps keep taste and nutrients.

You can even safely refreeze s meats the you don’t finish up cooking. This suspect you s them correctly to start with (more on the later).

According to USDA guidelines, however, nothing refreeze foodstuffs left outside the frozen refrigerator for much longer than two hours or one hour in temperatures above 90°F (32°C).

Despite her freezer’s volume to save meats and also fish because that a millennium, you most likely shouldn’t keep these foods in her freezer for rather that lengthy (unless you gain eating meat that tastes of shoe leather). Freezing your uncooked meats and also fish is a for sure practice, yet at part point, the no longer a tasty one. It’s vital to consider the U.S. Food and also Drug management (FDA) and USDA encourage time borders for freezing cut of meat and seafood.

Whether you follow those time limits or keep these foods items frozen for much longer, the freezer will constantly be your safest bet. Raw meats and fish will constantly last longer in the freezer than they perform in the fridge.

In enhancement to food storage guidelines, it’s just as important that you take care in defrosting these foods items once you take it them the end of the freezer. USDA accuse on for sure defrosting to speak you should only thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator or in a leakproof plastic bag submerged in cold water. That’s due to the fact that defrosting those foodstuffs at room temperature allows bacteria to flourish too rapidly.

And as you defrost those frosty meat in the fridge, you also want to make certain they nothing drip on anything else together they thaw out. The same goes for marinating raw meat in the fridge. Place the meat in a spanned dish to avoid spilling.

Beyond the freezer, box meats and also fish additionally offer girlfriend a an extremely long storage life: between two and five years. This suspect you keep these foodstuffs in appropriate conditions.

Your alternatives for canned meats and fish are more restricted than what you have the right to store in your freezer or fridge, however. This is due to the fact that canned meats and also fish often tend to come in a very particular format, favor Spam, a tin of anchovies, or box tuna fish.

Canning entails a different procedure to keep your food safe and unspoiled. The food is heated to kill bacteria then vacuum sealed to create a sterile environment and prohibit new bacteria growth.

There room very few examples where the fridge is your finest storage choice over her freezer or canned foodstuffs in your cupboard, but these examples do exist. The FDA proposal you skip freezing prepared meats that have actually been stuffed, because that instance, and also only refrigerate those prior to cooking.

Also, the USDA states mayonnaise, cream sauces, and also lettuces nothing freeze well. Nothing freeze these foodstuffs or any kind of meats that have been prepared with them.


When it comes to most uncooked cut of beef, you have the right to freeze them for several months without sacrificing quality.

According come the FDA, you deserve to keep cuts, favor roasts, frozen for anywhere from 4 come 12 months and steaks for 6 come 12 months. Floor beef have to be frozen for no more than three to four months.

Once cooked, friend can additionally safely freeze those beefy leftovers. Yet the FDA recommends you store these frozen for only around two to 3 months. Again, this is completely a matter of quality. Meat deserve to be kept much longer in the freezer than these guidelines espouse. However at the point, girlfriend may start to sacrifice quality.


If you want to freeze a totality chicken or turkey, the an excellent news is the frozen poultry deserve to keep for approximately one year without sacrificing much quality. The FDA states chicken parts like thighs, breasts, or wings store well for as much as nine months, however giblets have to be kept no much longer than 3 to 4 months. Floor chicken should more than likely be maintained for no much longer than three to four months together well.


For uncooked pork, freezer guidelines are similar to beef. Roasts can be kept frozen for between 4 and also 12 months. Chops room OK in the freezer for 4 to six months.

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

When it comes to smoked and processed pork like ham, hot dogs, bacon, and lunch meats, the FDA recommends you only freeze these foods items for one to 2 months.


Recommendations for freezing seafood room a bit more complicated. Lean fish choose catfish or cod have the right to be kept frozen for 6 to eight months. Fat fish prefer salmon must be maintained frozen for just two to 3 months.

Shellfish choose shrimp and other seafood prefer scallops can be retained frozen for three to six months. Cook fish should be maintained frozen for no much longer than four to 6 months. And also smoked fish must only be kept frozen for 2 months before sacrificing taste.


Most uncooked meat, regardless of cut, deserve to be save in the fridge for three to 5 days. However there are certainly exceptions. Soil meat and also offal favor liver and kidneys have to only be maintained in the refrigerator for one to two days. Leftovers containing cook meat should be preserved for no longer than three to four days prior to tossing.


Raw poultry, whether whole, components like breasts or thighs, or soil giblets or meat, deserve to only be retained for one to 2 days in the fridge. But, as soon as cooked, you gain a little bit of an extension. The FDA says you have the right to keep cooking poultry in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.


Fresh, uncooked pork deserve to be refrigerated about as lengthy as other meats: three to five days. This is nevertheless of even if it is it’s a roast or pork chops. Raw ground pork should also only be retained in the fridge for one to 2 days. Once cooked, pork dishes need to be kept for 2 to 3 days in the fridge prior to tossing.

The indict are different for handle pork products. Unopened packages of hot dogs and lunch meat can be kept for two weeks. Once those packages space opened, just keep warm dogs because that a week and luncheon meat for three to five days.

Only keep bacon for 7 days. The same goes for a whole, cooked ham. However for half a ham, you have the right to refrigerate it for three to five days. Ham slices have the right to be preserved in the refrigerator for 3 to four days.


Lean or fatty fish and shellfish can only it is in refrigerated because that one to 2 days before needing to toss. You deserve to keep cooking fish leftovers for three to 4 days. Exhilaration fish, top top the various other hand, deserve to be retained longer. You have the right to safely refrigerate it for 14 days. As soon as opened, box fish favor tuna can be safely refrigerated for three to 4 days.

In the people of for sure food storage, crate food is a genuine boon. The provides countless affordable and long-lasting options. Follow to USDA guidelines, you deserve to keep box food for 2 to 5 years, whether it’s fish, poultry, pork, or beef.

Commercially box food is placed in a sterile, vacuum-sealed container and also heat handle at 250°F (121°C). This procedure kills microorganisms, halts enzyme from forming, and also prevents brand-new bacteria native entering the stored food.

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Things can, however, go wrong. Sometimes canned food have the right to be damaged throughout the manufacturing process or become badly rusted. If her canned food is greatly rusted or damaged, you’ll definitely want come discard it. You’ll likewise want to acquire rid of any canned food it is bulging or smells bad. It might be a authorize of C. Botulinum, a bacterium that can reason a deadly form of food poisoning. Botulism is very rare, particularly in commercially box foods. But there’s a danger of it occurring in foods canned improperly at home.

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

Once you open up canned food, bacteria can begin to grow, therefore you’ll desire to easily refrigerate and also store any kind of unused portion. According to the USDA, you can safely put your leftover crate food right into the fridge. In stimulate to maintain taste and also flavor, that recommended the you refrigerate any type of unused part in a separate, clean storage container.

You can additionally freeze unused canned seafood in a appropriate storage container for up to 2 months.

Jenny Splitter is a writer and also storyteller based in Washington, D.C. She contributes science, food, and also health stories to outlets choose The Washington Post, new York Magazine, mental Floss, and 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 role playing game experience agency TBD Immersive. She performs her own true, occasionally embarrassing stories about herself on stage for audiences at the 9:30 Club, the national Gallery that Art, and also the Birchmere. In she spare time, she carves ice sculptures and grows heirloom wheat. Simply kidding, she has actually two kids.