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Old 10-02-2012, 06:47 PM   #1
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Question on how long you can keep cooked meat in refrigerator


I had a question about the length of time you can keep cooked meat in the refrigerator. I thought it was 3-4 days at most. But when I shop at Whole Foods and buy their bucket of chicken every week, the label says the following:

As you can see, the sell by date is actually 5 days after the day they cooked it. I asked one of the workers there, and she said they are actually being on the conservative side, that you can actually eat it another day or 2 after the sell by date. What do you think of this? If Whole Foods can do this, why can't I when I store my own leftovers? Tx...


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Old 10-02-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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I wouldn't buy that. My date is 4 days. But my partners is a week.

My Stop and Shop only sells chicken cooked that day.

Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:12 PM   #3
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It really mostly becomes a matter of how each individual feels about it. Any authority that makes recommendations will always be super conservative, using a number of days that pretty much guarentees meat will still be good if refrigerated, eve poorly. As to the absolute time cooked meat will keep, it depends on the storage temperature and the amount of water left in the meat. I think most people just feel after four or five days that something about it just puts them off. So, except for mistakes, few people ever keep it around until it actually spoils. The same nose test that warns of off raw meat applies to cooked meat. And I suspect that cooked meats become objectionably smelly or moldy long before then could do any harm.

I would personally shrink from rare meat over three days old, strictly on a feels wrong basis. I wouldn't keep cooked fish that long, because it seems to just deteriorate aesthetically. I have often well roasted a big pack of chicken thighs on a Sunday and used them for lunches all week, and the last pieces have passed the sight and smell test for days longer. Beef cooked medium rare or better (or medium or better under some guides) has had the usual bacteria killed, so it starts new at that point. Rapid cooling and storage maximizes the time before it become unpalatable from bacteria growth, and it would likely become unpleasantly moldy first. I have forgotten medium well beef in the refrigerator for two weeks or more without it being objectionable, other than the time would put me off. I don't doubt it was safe enough. Of course, there are limits, as our break room fridge science fair experiments demonstrate.

My feeling about fried chicken would be that, long before the meat was bad, the breading would be kind of deteriorated and not really recoverable. Old pasty sodden crust wouldn't appeal. My expectations for five day old fried chicken wouldn't be high.

In fact, whole cuts of meat, in advanced countries, are very rarely dangerous. They are a poor medium for anaerobic botulinum, and cooking takes care of most everything else. It will become unappealing before it ever becomes dangerous. (Ground meats are another matter, coming from their highly questional processing environments.)
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:55 AM   #4
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I agree completely with GLC. I think it's all up to what you feel comfortable with. There are noticeable signs when food is no longer edible. I've often eaten cooked meat that's been refrigerated for a week. In fact, I brought chili to work for lunch today that I made 7 days ago. It still smells/tastes fine.

But I probably will throw out the remaining chili tonight. Something about food over a week old gives me a slight case of the heebie-jeebies.
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:10 AM   #5
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I go with my Grans rule of 4 days for meat without bones and 2 days for bone in meats, chicken and fish.
The packaged meats in grocery stores are loaded with preservatives to keep them fresher for longer.
If all else fails just give it a good sniff, the nose never lies lol!
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Old 10-05-2012, 05:54 PM   #6
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Here is the "word" from the experts.

Food Product Dating | USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

It looks like 3-4 days from the sell by date for cooked and sealed poultry. Frankly, that would run the time in this case from packing to up to 9 days. That is too long in my view, and can't believe the quality would be good.
My personal habit is to not buy something like this more than one day after the pack date if given. If not given, I look for the longest sell by date, and if it isn't at least 2-3 days in the future, I pass.

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