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Food Storage Smarts

Much Ado about Meat

  • 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.

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