Storing Meat in Your Freezer

The first step in making sure the meat in your freezer is safe and wholesome is selecting only high quality, fresh or processed meat to freeze.

If you decide to repackage the meat, remember to wash your hands thoroughly and wash the surfaces in contact with the meat. (See Packaging or Repackaging Meat)

thermometerProperly handled food stored in a freezer at 0°F (-18 °C) will always be safe as long as it hasn’t thawed. The food is safe because the bacteria has entered a dormant stage. For best quality, store frozen raw ground meats no more than 3 to 4 months; cooked meats, 2 to 3 months. Storage for a long period of time is not dangerous, but flavors and textures can deteriorate. For this reason, date packages before you put them in the freezer.

Initial freezing is most efficient if the packages are placed on the lowest shelf of the freezer in a single layer. Once frozen, they can be stacked on the shelves. Freezing meat will only be safe and effective if the freezer temperature is accurate. Check the freezer temperature frequently with a thermometer.

To measure the temperature in the freezer:

  1. Place the thermometer between frozen food packages.
  2. Wait 5 to 8 hours.
  3. If the temperature is not 0° to 2 ° F, adjust the freezer temperature control.
  4. Check again after 5 to 8 hours.