Food Safety: How Long Does Meat Last in the Freezer?

Food Safety: How Long Does Meat Last in the Freezer?
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Freezer Storage

Do you often wonder how long meat lasts in the freezer? Most people think as long as the meat is in the freezer it is safe to eat. But this is not completely true. Meat can become dangerous to eat and lose its quality if it is left in the freezer for an extended amount of time. To help you determine how long it is safe to leave meat in the freezer, you must look to the types of meat you have.

How Long Does Meat Last In the Freezer?

It is generally safe to freeze almost any type of meat as long as it is packaged and sealed correctly. If possible, you should leave the meat in the original package it came in. If you can not do that, make sure the packaging you use can remain air free to prevent freezer burn and contamination. Heavy duty foil or containers with tightly fitting lids are the best to use when freezing meat outside of its original packaging. It is important to make sure your freezer is set to zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Uncooked Beef Products

Uncooked beef products can be stored for different amounts of time in the freezer. Uncooked chops of beef can be stored four to six months in a freezer if they are packaged properly. Ground beef can only be frozen for three to four months. Roasts and steaks are safe to freeze for six to twelve months.

Cooked Beef Products

Freezing cooked beef products can only be frozen for a shorter amount of time than uncooked beef products. Most can only be frozen for two to three months. Cold cuts are no recommended for freezing, whether they are opened or not.

Pork Products

Cured bacon is not recommended to be frozen longer than a month. Unopened or opened ham should not be frozen at all. Fully cooked slices of ham can safely be frozen for one to two months. The same goes for half or fully cooked whole hams.

Uncooked pork chops can be frozen for up to six months. Pork roasts should not be frozen for longer than twelve months. Cooked cuts of pork should only be frozen for three months.

Poultry Products

Most poultry products can be frozen for an extended amount of time. Whole, uncooked poultry can be frozen for up to twelve months but no longer. Cut up pieces of poultry, such as breast pieces, can be frozen for nine months. Giblets can only be frozen for three months. Cooked poultry can also be frozen but for only four months.

Seafood Products

Seafood does not have a very long freezer life. Full flavor fish that is uncooked can be frozen for three months but no longer than six months. This is the same for mild flavored uncooked fish as well. Cooked or breaded fish should only be frozen for two or three months. Shellfish can be frozen safely for three to four months if it is uncooked. Cooked shell fish should only be frozen for one or two months.

It is important to follow these rules about freezing meat. If meat is frozen improperly, serious health complications can occur, such as botulism and E. coli .


Betty Crocker Cookbook “Getting Started” Whiley Publishing Tenth Edition

“How Long will Frozen Meat Stay Fresh?” WiseGeek

Photo: “Fresh Meat 2” By Lusi March 29, 2008 stock.xchng