Always shop for meat and poultry right before you leave the store. Place meat in a plastic bag to keep it from dripping onto other foods in your shopping cart.
Store meat and poultry in a refrigerator set between 35 and 40 degrees.
Raw meat should be placed in a plastic bag and set on a plate on the lowest shelf to keep the juices from dripping onto other foods.
Always follow the “Use By,” “Keep Refrigerated” and “Safe Handling” information on the package label. If you can’t remember when you put meat in the refrigerator, throw it out.
Use beef, roasts and deli meats within three to four days of purchase. Beef for stews or stir-fries should be used within two to three days, ground beef within one to two days.
Ready-to-cook corned beef will keep in the fridge for one week, hot dogs and deli meats for three to five days, smoked sausage for one week.
Bacon will keep for five to seven days in the refrigerator unopened and can be frozen for one month.
If you don’t plan to use meat within a few days of purchase, freeze it by overwrapping the package with aluminum foil or heavy freezer paper.
Roasts, steaks and beef for stews or stir-fries will keep for 6 to 12 months in the freezer, ground beef for 3 to 4 months, corned beef for 2 weeks, hot dogs and deli meats for 1 to 2 months. Smoked and semi-dry sausage don’t freeze well.
Commercially dried and cured meat like beef jerky will keep for up to one year without refrigeration if unopened, but should be refrigerated once opened.
Cured ham, which should be cooked before eating, will keep for five to seven days in the refrigerator.
Use chicken by the sell-by date unless you plan on freezing it. Chicken and turkey may be frozen for nine months to a year in a freezer set at 0 degrees. Cooked chicken or turkey should be eaten or frozen within three to four days of cooking.