So you bought several pieces of beef on sale last week, put them in the fridge, and forgot about them. You finally remember and are about to cook the beef when you notice the sell-by date has expired.
Although you are thinking about tossing the beef, it looks perfectly fine. Since you bought several pieces of beef, you start wondering how long it will last after the sell-by date.
What Does the Sell-by Date Mean on Meat?
To understand the sell-by date, you need to understand product dating.
Product dating can seem like the most confusing thing in the world. Because of this confusion, many people toss foods such as beef in the trash because the product date has expired, even though it is perfectly good.
The sell-by date is specifically for the retailer. The sell-by date tells the store owner, as well as their workers, the final day they can stock the beef on their shelves. After the date expires, the product must be taken off the shelf.
Usually, retailers discount the beef as the sell-by date approaches. Therefore, most consumers stock up on beef as its qaulity and safety are still acceptable.
The use-by date is probably the least confusing product date. If the beef is fresh, it must be consumed on or before the use-by date expires.
The same goes for the freeze-by date. The freeze-by date tells the user the last day the meat needs to be consumed or frozen.
A package on a date is usually found on fresh meat. However, this date can be confusing, especially for consumers.
Most consumers assume the meat will deteriorate quicker than it does. People also think the beef will last longer than it’s supposed to.
Fresh refrigerated beef, which is usually packaged in a tray or wrapped in butcher paper, can last for 3 days. If the beef is vacuum sealed well, it may even last 7 days.
Finally, the expiration date tells the consumer the beef needs to be used on or before the date expires. It is uncommon to see expiration dates on fresh meats. However, they are printed on some processed meats.
How Long Is Beef Good For After Sell-By Date
The sell-by date does not mean your beef is no longer safe. Fresh beef will last in the fridge for 1-2 days after the sell-by date. It will last in the freezer for 6-8 months as long as it is stored properly.
Corned beef will last in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, while it will last in the freezer for 6-8 months. Both steaks and ground beef will last for 1-2 days in the fridge and 6 to 8 months in the freezer.
Technically cooked beef, steaks, and ground beef may last up to 6-7 days. However, from a food safety standpoint, it will only last 3-4 days in the fridge.
Cooked beef lasts in the freezer for 6-8 months. However, the quality may start to decline after 3-4 months.
Canned beef and corned beef will last for 5-7 days in the fridge. However, eating it within 3-4 days may be better.
Since these beef products were already cooked before they were canned, they cannot be frozen. Freezing them would ruin the texture of the corned beef or canned beef.
How to Freeze Beef
Since you can freeze beef before or after the sell-by date, you need to know how to freeze it properly so it lasts as long as possible. The best way to freeze beef is to vacuum seal it.
However, since everyone does not have a vacuum sealer, you can double wrap the beef with plastic wrap. Wrap the beef with a layer of foil or parchment paper and place it into a freezer bag.
Press as much air as you from the bag before sealing it. If the beef is exposed to air, it may cause a freezer burn.
Label the bag with the type of beef and today’s date before freezing it.
How To Tell if Beef Is Spoiled
Beef may still be good after the sell-by date. However, the beef may be spoiled because of how it is processed at the facility, store, or once you get it home. This is why it is crucial to know how to tell if beef is spoiled.
Once it is spoiled, beef will develop a rancid disgusting odor. You will have no choice but to toss the beef in the trash because you can’t bear the smell.
Rotten beef will also develop a sticky, slimy texture.
A wall of bacteria wrapped around the beef. So ensure you wash your hands and every surface the beef touched with hot soapy water before you touch anything else.
Rotten beef may also be discolored. However, a brownish color does not necessarily mean the beef is spoiled.
The brown color occurs due to a chemical reaction called metmyoglobin. Essentially myoglobin in eef comes into contact with oxygen.
Additionally, freezing the beef may also cause changes. Nevertheless, as long as there is no mold or signs of spoilage, the beef is still good.
In contrast, if the sell-by date has passed and the beef has a rancid smell or off texture, it is spoiled.
If you must contemplate whether the beef is spoiled, toss it in the trash. While no one likes wasting food or money, consuming rotten beef could make you sick.
Consuming spoiled beef will expose you to bacteria leading to food poisoning.
Symptoms of food poisoning include fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fever. So don’t risk it and toss the rotten beef in the garbage.
The next time you forget about that beef you let sit in the fridge, don’t panic. Simply look at the sell-by date.
If the sell-by date has passed, inspect the beef for signs of spoilage. If the beef is spoiled, toss it in the trash.
If not, the beef will last for a few days in the fridge and 6-8 months in the freezer.
You might also be interested in the following:
- How Long Is Ground Beef Good for After Sell by Date
- How Long Is Steak Good for After Its Sell by Date
- How Long Is Chicken Good for After the Sell by Date
- How Long Is Sausage Good for After Sell by Date
- How Long Is Pork Good for After Sell by Date
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.