Raw meat is one of those foods that so many people don’t really know how to handle.
We know that we must be careful with the meat and the surfaces that it is exposed to. Some of us are grossed out from the thought of handling raw meat while others just deal with it and never have an issue.
Handling raw meat does require care and caution. Raw meat is known to carry bacteria that can lead to food poisoning and illness. This is why there are specific instructions for cooking most raw meat to a specific temperature before you consume it.
How do you store raw meat in the fridge? We recommend using the bottom shelf to store raw meat so there is no chance that any dripping juices will reach food under them. You should also consider using a plate or a container to hold any juices from the raw meat.
Storing raw meat in the fridge is simple but there are some things to know and be aware of.
In this guide, we will walk you through how to store raw meat in the fridge. We have some great tips and topics to cover here so that you can be safe and fully informed on the topic.
Keep reading to learn how to store raw meat in the fridge and more.
Storing Raw Meat in the Fridge – A Complete Guide
Storing raw meat should be simple right? You purchase it packaged from the butcher’s shop or a local grocery store and you just toss it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. What else is there to know?
While the description here is a basic summary there are some other things to keep in mind.
For starters, is there a certain way it should be stored or a certain place in the fridge? How long can you store raw meat in the fridge? Is it OK for raw meat to be uncovered?
There are a lot of variables to keep in mind here and just some best practices to be aware of. You certainly don’t want to risk contaminating any other food in your fridge or dealing with food poisoning because of improper handling of the raw meat.
When you store raw meat in the fridge, whether you are placing fresh meat there or putting meat in the fridge to thaw out you should take a few minor precautions to protect other food in the fridge from contamination.
It is best if you can make room to store your raw meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
If for some reason any juices were to escape the packaging, this would ensure that they don’t drip downward into other food that you have stored in the fridge. You might have to clean your shelf but there will be no contamination risk.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it really is best if you can place your raw meat into a container or on a plate if it is wrapped in butcher paper, particularly if you are thawing out meat.
This is just another way to contain those juices and keep them from spreading around.
A lot of raw meat comes in those Styrofoam dish packaging. You won’t have to set those in a container or on a plate if they have a slight lip. If the meat is just wrapped in butcher paper or something similar, you should use a container of some sort to contain any juices.
Why the Bottom Shelf of the Refrigerator?
While there is nothing that says you have to store your raw meat in a specific location, there are some tips for storage. That raw meat could potentially affect other items in the fridge if it is not carefully stored.
You’ve heard that word cross-contamination and that is what you are trying to avoid when you place items like raw chicken, raw beef, fish, or other types of raw meat into your fridge.
You don’t want that raw meat to touch anything else or share its raw meat juices with anything else either.
The best place to store your meat to avoid potential cross contamination is in the bottom part of your fridge. The bottom shelf works really well for this purpose. We don’t typically recommend using a drawer unless your fridge has a special meat drawer.
That bottom shelf will be the perfect place! Just leave that spot open for raw meat and give it its own special location right there.
How Long Can You Store Raw Meat in the Fridge?
There are several different variations of raw meat. You might have steak or ground hamburger or chicken or lamb. This list really could go on and on. Not every meat is exactly the same but the rule of thumb is up to 5 days.
Check out this chart for some specifics. We’ve also added a freezer storage to the chart for reference purposes.
|Type of Meat||Refrigerator||Freezer|
|Beef (any cut)||3-5 days||Up to 12 months|
|Chicken/Poultry||1-3 days||Up to 12 months|
|Pork (any cut)||3-5 days||Up to 12 months|
|Fatty fish (salmon)||1-2 days||About 3 months|
|Other seafood||Up to 3 days||Up to 6 months|
As you can see, the timeline for how you can store your raw meat in the fridge does vary depending on the type of meat it is.
Most seafood is very limited in how long it can be stored. The recommended timeframe for the major of fatty fish and shellfish is a maximum of 3 days of refrigerated storage.
Seafood tends to be more susceptible to breeding bacteria the longer it is stored. This is simply because of the item and the environment from which it came.
When it comes to beef or pork, these timelines are relevant to just about any cut of meat. Whether you have ground beef, steaks, roast, or something else within these meat types the timeframe primarily remains the same overall.
Chicken and poultry-related foods, regardless of whether it’s breasts, thighs, or another cut of chicken, also have a shorter timeframe. Chicken and seafood are some of the highest risk foods for cross-contamination.
How Do You Make Raw Meat Last Longer in the Fridge?
The first thing you should do is double-check the temperature of your fridge. Many of us take it for granted that the fridge is just as cold as it should be.
If you store raw meat in your fridge, you really want the temperature inside the fridge to be somewhere between 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit.
This particular temperature slows the spread of bacteria that could be on your raw meat. It reduces the likelihood of cross contamination and keeps your meat fresh for as long as possible.
While it may not stop bacteria from spreading, it will make it grow extremely slow and protect your food overall.
Some refrigerators have thermometers where you can check this. You can also use a candy thermometer or a glass kitchen thermometer to test the temperature.
To check it without a built-in thermometer, try filling a glass with water and placing the thermometer in there. Leave the glass in the fridge for about 8 hours.
You might be able to leave the thermometer in the glass or you can come back and place the thermometer in the glass that is in the fridge. If your fridge isn’t within the recommended range, adjust the fridge temperature to a safe zone, and then test it again.
Here are some other tips for refrigerator storage:
- Only open the fridge when necessary to maintain the right temperature.
- Routinely clean the fridge and sanitize surfaces.
- Use the bottom shelf and a container or plate.
- When meat is in the fridge, plan to use it quickly or toss it in the freezer.
Is It OK to Leave Raw Meat Uncovered in the Fridge?
You should never leave your meat uncovered in the fridge. Even when you set it out to come to room temperature, you will want some sort of covering. Whether you decide to cover it with plastic wrap or a lid, it is important that you cover it.
Remember that raw meat is a breeding ground for bacteria. The best way to protect it is to follow all of the safety recommendations.
Do not leave it uncovered as not only can it grow bacteria but it could also potentially share bacteria in the fridge.
Just as with most other items you store in the fridge, leaving it uncovered is not a great idea.
We hope you find this guide to storing raw meat in the fridge to be a valuable resource. Check out our question and answer section for some additional details!
What are the Risks of Raw Meat?
Bacteria like listeria, salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter are some of the biggest risks associated with raw meat.
These can cause illnesses and food poisoning. This is why it is so important to properly handle raw meat – and sufficiently cook it before eating!
Is It OK to Leave Raw Meat in the Fridge Overnight?
Absolutely! As long as you use it within a couple of days and store it properly, you should be just fine.
The best way to thaw frozen meat is by leaving it in the fridge overnight anyway, so one way or another, you will probably have to leave raw meat in your fridge at some point.