Food Safety: Storing
Food Safety: Storing
Storing food promptly and correctly can help prevent
- Set your refrigerator at or below
40°F (4°C) and your freezer at
or below 0°F (-18°C).
- Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, fish,
shellfish, ready-to-eat foods, and leftovers within 2 hours or sooner. If the
temperature outdoors is above 90°F (32°C), refrigerate within 1 hour. (This is often the case during summer
- Do not keep fresh poultry, fish, or ground meats in the
refrigerator for more than 2 days. Cook or freeze them.
- Do not keep
fresh beef, veal, lamb, or pork in the refrigerator more than 3 to 5 days. Cook
or freeze them.
- Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for
quicker cooling. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4
- Don't pack your refrigerator with food. Cool air must
circulate to keep food safe.
- Never store cooked or ready-to-eat
food below raw food in the refrigerator.
- Always store food in
leak-proof, clean containers with tight-fitting lids.
- In general, high-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and
pineapple can be stored in a cupboard for 12 to 18 months.
general, low-acid canned food such as meat, poultry, fish, and most vegetables
can be stored for 2 to 5 years. But the can must be in good condition and
stored in a cool, clean, dry place.
- Do not keep canned food if the
cans are dented, leaking, bulging, or rusting.
If the food has a "use by" date, consume the food by that
date or throw it out. If it has no date or only a "sell by" date, use the
following table. It tells you how long you should keep some popular foods in
the refrigerator or freezer. If you follow the recommended refrigeration time,
you will ensure that food is safe and doesn't spoil. Freezing food keeps it
safe for as long as it is frozen, so the recommended freezer-storage times are
only to ensure highest quality.
Recommended refrigeration times
| Product || Can refrigerate for: || Can freeze for: |
|Bacon ||7 days ||1 month|
|Beef, ground ||1 to 2 days ||3 to 4 months|
|Beef, steaks and roasts ||3 to 5 days ||4 to 12 months|
|Cheese, processed or brick ||3 to 4 weeks ||Can be frozen, but affects taste and
|Chicken, breasts or legs ||1 to 2 days ||9 months|
|Chicken, giblets ||1 to 2 days ||3 to 4 months|
|Chicken, whole ||1 to 2 days ||12 months|
|Eggs, fresh ||3 to 5 weeks ||Do not freeze|
|Eggs, hard boiled ||1 week ||Do not freeze well|
|Fish, fatty (salmon, perch, other) ||1 to 2 days ||2 to 3 months|
|Fish, lean (cod, flounder, other) ||1 to 2 days ||Up to 6 months|
|Gravy ||1 to 2 days ||2 to 3 months |
|Ice cream, ice milk ||Do not refrigerate ||2 to 4 months|
|Lunch meat, opened package ||3 to 5 days ||1 to 2 months|
|Lunch meat, unopened package ||2 weeks ||1 to 2 months|
|Mayonnaise ||2 months ||Do not freeze|
|Milk ||7 days ||1 month|
|Pizza, cooked ||3 to 4 days ||1 to 2 months|
|Pork, chops ||3 to 5 days ||4 to 6 months|
|Pork, ground ||1 to 2 days ||3 to 4 months|
|Pork, roasts ||3 to 5 days ||4 to 6 months|
|Sausage ||1 to 2 days ||1 to 2 months|
|Soups, stews (with vegetables or meat) ||3 to 4 days ||2 to 3 months|
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
October 18, 2012
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