A Guide to Storage Times for Meat, Poultry & Seafood

storage guide meat poultry seafood

Storing meats can be a tricky business. If not done correctly, it’s at risk of spoiling quickly and becoming a health hazard. And on top of that, for all the different kinds of meat, poultry, and fish out there, nearly all of them have different storage requirements.

That’s why we’re breaking it down into a handy list, detailing the optimal length of time to store different meats in the fridge and freezer.

Food Safety Australia’s temperature guidelines state that food should be kept frozen at -18 degrees Celsius and when thawing, it should be stored in a refrigerator that reaches no more than 5 degrees Celsius until it is ready to be prepared.

The length of times recommended below are reasonably conservative, so as to ensure optimal freshness and the best taste.

Beef and Lamb

Chops
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Minced meat and pre-made patties
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Roasts and loins
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Sausage, uncooked
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 2 months

Steaks
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Deli and Processed Meats

Cold cuts, deli-sliced
Refrigerator: 5 days
Freezer: 2 months

Cold cuts, packaged
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 5 days (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Hot dogs
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Sausage, cooked
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 2 months

Sausage, cured
Refrigerator: 3 months (unopened); 6 weeks (open)
Freezer: Do not freeze.

Pork

Bacon
Refrigerator: 2 weeks (unopened); 1 week (open)
Freezer: 1 month

Chops
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Minced meat and pre-made patties
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Ham, cooked
Refrigerator: 1 week (whole); 4 days (half); 4 days (steaks)
Freezer: 2 months

Roasts and loins
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 6 months

Sausage, uncooked
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 2 months

Poultry (Chicken and Turkey)

Minced meat and pre-made patties
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 4 months

Pieces
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 6 months

Sausage, uncooked
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 2 months

Whole
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 6 months

Seafood

Crabmeat, packaged
Refrigerator: 1 month (unopened); 5 days (open)
Freezer: 3 months

Crabs, live whole
Refrigerator: 1 day
Freezer: Do not freeze.

Fish (fatty), fresh
Such as salmon and mackerel
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: Do not freeze. Fatty fish may become mushy when frozen at home and thawed.

Fish (lean), fresh
Such as flounder and cod
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 6 months

Fish, frozen
Refrigerator: 2 days (thawed)
Freezer: 6 months

Lobsters, live whole
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: Do not freeze.

Lobster tails, frozen
Refrigerator: 2 days (thawed)
Freezer: 6 months

Mussels
Refrigerator: 2 days (live in shell); 1 day (shucked)
Freezer: 4 months (shucked); cook after thawing.

Oysters
Refrigerator: 2 days (live in shell); 1 day (shucked)
Freezer: 4 months (shucked); cook after thawing.

Scallops
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 3 months; cook after thawing.

Prawns, cooked
Refrigerator: 3 days
Freezer: 3 months

Prawns, fresh or thawed
Refrigerator: 2 days
Freezer: 6 months

Prawns, frozen
Refrigerator: 2 days (thawed)
Freezer: 6 months

 

Full guide via. Real Simple

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