Most people know it’s important to keep meat in the refrigerator to prevent foodborne illness. Many don’t know just how long different kinds of meat can stay fresh whether it’s cold or frozen.
Dietitian Catherine Kruppa says beef can stay in the fridge for three to five days, while raw chicken and fish are only good for one or two days.
After that, she says you could end up with foodborne illness. “And many times when you have a stomach bug, which you think of as a stomach bug, is really some form of foodborne illness,” Kruppa said.
Kruppa also says not to let your guard down with cooked meat, because it doesn’t last much longer in the freezer than raw meat. You’re limited to three or four days in the fridge with cooked beef, chicken, and fish.
Kruppa recommends storing in the freezer right away, where it can last months.
“Bring it home, put it in your freezer if you don’t think you’re going to cook it right away,” Kruppa said, “and then you can take it out, defrost it and then cook it and then eat it within a few days and then you’re in good shape.”
For those who buy in bulk, beef can last for six to 12 months frozen, chicken is good for nine months, and fish is safe for six to eight months.
It’s also a good idea to date everything before putting it in the freezer so you have a record of how long it has been there.