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    Food Safety: Storing

    Food Safety: Storing

    Topic Overview

    Storing food promptly and correctly can help prevent food poisoning .

    • Set your refrigerator at or below 40F (4C) and your freezer at or below 0F (-18C).
    • 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 90F (32C), refrigerate within 1 hour. (This is often the case during summer picnics.)
    • 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 days.
    • 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.
    • In 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 texture
    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

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
    W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
    Last Revised October 18, 2012

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