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Oct 22, 2008 11:37 AM

How long can ground beef stay in the fridge?

I made some hamburgers on Sunday evening using fresh ground beef. I left two burgers in the fridge uncooked.

Are they still ok to cook today and eat?

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  1. probably, but you are pushing it.

    there are a lot of variables. how fresh was the meat. how cold is your fridge, how long did it sit out when you were making the burgers, how have they been wrapped. and not to be insulting, but how "sterile" were your hands and the surfaces the burger touched when you were preparing them. Handling the meat to make a burger is a prime opportunity to introduce a lot of microbes into the burger.

    I've had hamburger go for almost a week under "optimal" conditions, but usually 2-3 days is about it in my experience.

    3 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      Not sure how fresh the meat was, it came from a normal grocery store, nothing organic or fancy....

      My fridge has some issues, the door does not close properly and therefore does not seal properly. I think its pretty cold, sometimes things at the back freeze but the repair guy told me that is because the compressor is running constantly.

      Not sure how clean my hands were, they weren't operating room sterile and neither was my counter/cutting board.

      I am slightly uncomfortable/paranoid about eating these, I think I might just toss them.

      1. re: paper_bag_princess

        If I have hamburger that I am afraid of eating......around day 3 or so I will cook it up with some rice and give it to my dog that way it isn't being totally wasted. If also works great if they have sensitive stomachs per my vet.

        1. re: paper_bag_princess

          i eat all kinds of stuff that has been in the fridge for a while, but i do agree with the "when in doubt, throw it out" philosophy on food. $2.00 worth of ground beef just isn't worth it.

      2. I seriously doubt there would be any problem. I have left GB in the frig a lot longer than that and used it with no problem. Unless it smells bad, I wouldn't worry. If you are still worried, throw it in a pan and mix it around, fry it well, add some tomato sauce and herbs etc., and make a nice spaghetti sauce or chili. Or follow phimoez' meat and rice idea, but eat it yourself rather than feeding it to your dog.

        BTW, if I were you I'd surely look into getting a new frig. You must be using a huge amount of electricity with that old one you have, and as such new one will pay for itself pretty soon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: johnb

          The fridge is being fixed soon. Thankfully.

        2. Nope. ground meat in the fridge has a 24 hour time line to use or toss. 72 hours is way over the line. Probably does not smell so good either.

          10 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            I agree - I tend to be much more cavalier than jfood on food safety issues generally, but I'm super careful about ground beef.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I decided not to eat them. Had leftover casserole for dinner instead.

            2. re: jfood


              I know you are 99th percentile on these issues, but could you kindly cite some credible (ie not opinion but scientifically-based) source for your "24 hour" rule?

              1. re: jfood

                jfood!!! Twenty-four hours??? You know I love you (and we go around on this issue), but what is the source of your misinformation?

                1. re: jfood

                  Boy you guys are tough. Good thing jfood is sitting in a hotel with not a lot to do.

                  Well he found three cites, one for 24 hours and two for 2-days:

                  Within 24 hours

                  Within 2 days

                  OK so maybe 2 days is a better timeframe, but jfood's boozer is going to take one good whiff after his original 24 hours.

                  BTW they also say 165 degrees cooked. No chance jfood's cooking a burger to 165.

                  1. re: jfood

                    I'm no daredevil, jfood, but if the ground beef isn't gray inside, it's a green light for the burgers. Some markets re-pack, surrounding older meat with freshly-ground, so you have to know your source. I've started getting mine at Trader Joe's, after discovering that theirs can sit in the fridge 4-5 days and still be bright-colored and odor-free throughout. Maybe it's the tightly-laminated plastic film and/or the plastic tray. Good flavor, too, and $2.49/# for the 80/20.

                    1. re: jfood

                      I notice the "24 hour" one also recommends that if you will need more than 30min. to get home from the store you should bring a cooler full of ice with you to keep your perishables safe. Wow!!!. I wonder how many people do that. Imagine how many dead people there would be if it were really necessary. I think these folks up in Alberta are a little over the top. One wonders whether the food safety advisors have a bone to pick with the local cattlemen's association, which is big up there.

                      OTOH, they only went to 160, not 165, for cooking termperature. Sounds risky to me.

                      1. re: johnb

                        There is NO risk of contracting a disease from a burger cooked to 160 or 165 because it will be in the disposal.

                    2. re: jfood

                      24 hours? Wow, I'm well beyond that most days.

                      1. re: lost squirrel

                        I usually will give hamburger up to 4 days in the fridge once I have opened the package (and i eat my burgers rare). But once I have handled the meat (i.e. made it into a burger) one or two days tops. as bad as a meat packing plant may be... im sure my hands, my cutting board, or whatever is likely to be just as bad.

                    3. With ground beef, I consume it the day it's ground. On the other hand, undercooked burgers and tartare are the only way I use it, and I pass by a good butcher when walking home from the subway, so there's no excuse for me to mess around with yesterday's ground meat.

                      1. Hmm. For me, it really depends on what you're doing with it. If you're eating it rare as in a burger, I personally wouldn't use meat that's been in the fridge for longer than about two days, after buying it very fresh. If you're using it in meatloaf or chili, where you cook the hell out of it... well, I might be particularly gross, but I've used meat that's been pushing a week.