Can Meat Expire in the Freezer?

Frozen meat is safe to eat and does not expire if preserved at 0 ⁰F for the right amount of time. But there is a difference between safe to eat and good to eat. With time, the quality of different meat may deteriorate differently due to the factors such as freezer burn.

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Therefore, it is required to know how long different meats should be kept in the freezer without ruining the taste.

Can Meat expire in the Freezer?

The temperature of the freezer and the type of meat are essential aspects of meat expiration.

Spoilage is caused due to the presence of bacteria and fungi that are produced within the meat, where temperature plays a significant role in the growth of the microorganisms. The best temperature for bacterial growth is 104 to 284 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria releases substances that change the color, taste, and texture of meat.

The lower the temperature, the slower the decomposition process. Other factors determine the microorganisms’ growth and survival, such as pH and moisture, apart from the temperature.

Freezing meat to an optimal level eliminates moisture, which also stops the growth of microorganisms and destroys certain parasites. Therefore, we can say that 0 degree Fahrenheit is the deadlock for any microorganisms.

How Long can you Keep the Meat in the Freezer?

Different types of meat can be preserved for a different time, and the more the food is processed, the faster it expires. Cutting and processing make meat come in contact with external dirt and bacteria. As a result, the retention period decreases.

For example, raw meat can be kept frozen for up to one year, whereas cooked curries can be kept for 1 to 2 months. Preserved at the right temperature can make meat safe to eat for an indefinite period by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Still, it might not be healthy to consume forever. Some of the well-eaten meats with different expiry time are given below.

Frozen meat expiration chart

Frozen ItemRetaining time
Bacon 1 to 2 months
Chicken or TukeyWhole raw chicken retains up to a year, whereas cooked boneless chicken up to 6 months.
Chicken pieces with bone9 months 
Chopped (Beef, pork, lamp4 to 12 months 
Fish 3 to 8 months
Ground meats 3 to 4 months 
Ham 1 to 2 months 
Hot dogs 1 to 2 months
Organ meats 1 to 2 months 
Roast 4 to 12 months 
Smoked sausage1 to 2 months 
Uncooked sausage 1 to 2 months 
Steak 6 to 12 months 

How Long Does Meat last in the Freezer after the Expiration Date?

Ground meats are highly sensitive to spoilage due to bacteria-produced within it.

It is found that meat can be kept for 3 to 4 months and lasts longer than the expiry date when you freeze them. Harmful bacteria are unable to grow at freezing points. As a result, frozen meat is safe to eat even after its expiration, but its taste may not be the same.

Packaging the meat in a proper way is also very important. It should be sealed with plastic bags with no air place to hold any moisture. The moisture acts as a medium of bacterial growth and, with zero air, frozen to the optimal level, makes meat last for 9 months to a year.

How to Tell if Frozen Meat is Bad?

Whether frozen meat has gone bad can be identified from its color, smell, and texture. Meat is rich in protein, fat, and carbohydrate. The breakdown of such substances releases a sour odor and often smells like egg or ammonia. The texture becomes slimy or sticky to touch, and the color becomes brownish or greenish instead of red.

Meat gets spoiled when not frozen with proper packaging and optimal temperature. Meat with moisture creates ice crystals within the packaging, indicating rotten meat.

FAQs: Related Asked Question

Q. Is it safe to eat 3-year-old frozen meat?

Although the freezing effect may hamper the taste of meat, it is safe to eat 3-year-old frozen meat when preserved at 0-degree Fahrenheit because it stops the growth of microorganisms and makes the existing ones inactive.

Q. Is it safe to eat 10-year-old frozen meat?

Research has found that meat frozen at 0-degree Fahrenheit can keep meat safe to eat for an infinite time because bacteria and fungi cannot grow. Microorganisms are the main reason for meat spoilage, and inactive microorganisms do not release harmful substances that deteriorate the texture of meat.

Conclusion

Freezing is one of the best options to retain meat longer, but the quality of meat declines with time. You should make sure the meat you are dealing with should be kept in the freezer for the right time. Meat contains several microorganisms. Therefore, it should be handled with care.