How Long Can Raw Meat Stay In The Refrigerator?

Learn how it stays fresh before it's no longer safe to eat.

Photography: Shutterstock

Bulk shopping is usually a great idea. Buying bigger cases, packages, and containers of groceries that you frequently consume means savings for you, both in money and time. This also means bulk buying food can be a great time-saving task. 

However, when it comes to fresh meat, buying in bulk means sacrificing freezer and refrigerator space for this kind of food. This usually means you need to freeze your meats. Meat, when frozen completely and properly, can last for months under the best conditions and will last indefinitely in extreme cases. All you have to do is make sure that you have it prepared and ready to cook when you bring it out. 

This also means learning and knowing how long you can safely store raw meat in your refrigerator.

Here's what food safety experts say:

1. Thaw frozen meat safely in the refrigerator.

When your food was frozen, time was stopped. Once you have placed the frozen meat in the refrigerator, time slowly begins to start ticking again.


Thawing meat or any frozen food is best done in the refrigerator. While thawing in the refrigerator is the slowest method, it is the safest method. This is because the refrigerator stays cold and won't reach the temperature danger zone(40 to 140 degrees F/4 to 60 degrees C) of food. It's at these temperatures where bacteria are known to grow rapidly. 

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2. Raw meat should be used within two to five days.

However, once the meat has thawed, the timer on its freshness increases rapidly.

  • Ground meats, poultry, and fish should be cooked within one or two days after it's been thawed.
  • Beef and pork cuts, including big cuts such as roasts, steaks, or chops should be cooked within three to five days.

These apply to both thawed meat and any meat you don't freeze but refrigerate instead. 

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This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.


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