Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: August 16, 2022

Whether you work in a restaurant or you’re simply looking out for the safety of your family at home, it’s extremely important to know and understand how long steak is able to last in the fridge.

Whether cooked or uncooked, steak can only remain in the fridge for a short time before bacteria begins to grow and the steak becomes inedible.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • According to the USDA, uncooked steak can last in the fridge for three to five days if stored at 40°F and for two to four days if the steak is cooked.
  • The length of time the steak is able to last will naturally also depend on how the steak was packaged and stored.

This article will focus on how long your steak will last in the fridge, whether cooked or raw.

It will also explain how to store your steak properly while raw or once cooked and what signs to watch out for to ensure your steak is in an edible condition before you attempt to cook or eat it.

How Long Does Steak Last In The Fridge?

hand view of a person storing meat in the freezer

It’s important to remember that while keeping steak in your fridge or freezer will not prevent it indefinitely from breaking down, it will slow down the process significantly.

Steak left at room temperature may become unsafe to eat within a few hours, while steak stored in the fridge may last up to 5 days, perhaps longer.

Steak can go bad if it is not correctly stored or if it’s stored for too long.

This is why it’s important to understand the factors that influence steak’s longevity to ensure you never eat something that will compromise your health or that of your family.

The length of time for which steak will last in the fridge will depend on several factors.

Firstly, how the steak was kept before selling, as well as how it is packaged. Naturally, the steak's "use before” date will also have an impact on how long it will last in your fridge.

Generally speaking, the steak will last between three and five days in the fridge if it is raw.

If it has been vacuum packed and therefore has had all the oxygen removed, it can last far longer.

This is because, without the presence of oxygen, the steak's freshness is preserved for a far longer period [1].

How Long Does Raw Steak Last In The Fridge?

stack of frozen meat

According to the USDA, raw steak can be kept in the fridge for between three and five days.

This will depend in a big way on how the steak was packaged and stored before purchase.

If the steak was kept in the butcher's counter, it might only last in the fridge for around two days.

This is because the butcher’s case in which it was stored would have allowed for more oxygen exposure and the potential growth of bacteria.

Generally, steaks stored in these conditions are kept in loose plastic or paper and are not sealed off from oxygen exposure whatsoever.

If a steak is vacuum-sealed, there is as much oxygen and as many contaminants kept away from the meat as possible.

This means that a vacuum-packed steak could potentially last for as long as ten days in the fridge if it has been properly vacuum-packed [2].

How Long Does Cooked Steak Last In the Fridge?

steak in a plate

It’s important for cooked steak to be placed in the fridge as soon as it has cooled down.

This is so as to ensure that it remains out of the so-called "danger zone" between 40°F and 140°F that creates conditions that are conducive to bacterial growth.

It's important, therefore, to get your cooked steak to temperatures below forty degrees Fahrenheit as quickly as possible after cooking.

At the right temperature, bacterial growth will be significantly hampered.

Three days is the ideal length of time for cooked steak to be kept in the fridge according to the USDA; however, it can be stretched up to 5 days if the conditions are right.

Properly packing your steak before storing it in the fridge will make the biggest difference in ensuring it remains fresh for as long as possible.

To prevent the steak from exposure to air, it must be packaged tightly and wrapped up before placing it in the fridge.

The addition of aluminum foil or a vacuum-sealed bag will help to ensure the steak remains properly sealed from contamination.

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How To Determine Your Steak’s Safety

fridge with frozen meat

There are several ways in which you can establish whether your steak is okay to eat or not.

Remember that while storing your steak in the fridge or freezer will slow down the process of rotting, it cannot prevent this process indefinitely [3].

Naturally, the first thing to check is the steak’s “use before” date. This will tell you whether the steak is safe to eat or not.

Perhaps the steak was previously frozen, and you can't remember how long you've had it in the fridge for? How do you know what to look out for?

If the steak has a somewhat slimy appearance or a slippery or sticky feel, this is a sure sign it’s not fit for consumption.

Generally, a piece of steak will start to become slimy just before mold starts to grow.

If the steak has adopted a strange color, this is another sign that it’s not fit for consumption.

Steak that has been exposed to oxygen will have a bright red color, and vacuum-packed steak will be slightly less red.

These are the only colors that raw steak should have. Anything other than this mean’s that the steak is not fit for consumption.

Steak that isn’t safe to eat will also start to smell bad with a distinct ammonia-like odor [4].

Conclusion

It’s always extremely important to ensure that the food that you consume is safe for consumption, irrespective of the type of food.

When it comes to meat, extra precautions should always be taken to ensure you and your family members do not fall sick from the consumption of rotting food products.

If a piece of meat looks or smells slightly suspicious, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and rather dispose of the less-than-fresh food item.


References:

  1.     https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts
  2.     https://www.mychicagosteak.com/steak-university/signs-your-steak-is-spoiled
  3.     https://www.healthline.com/health/can-i-still-eat-it-meats#Best-practices-for-storing-meat
  4.     https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16502

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