Most raw pork products are good for up to 3 to 4 days past the sell by date – for ground pork, though, it is best to cook or freeze this meat after two days.
So, your pork has been sitting in your fridge for a few days, you may now be wondering: how long is pork good for after sell by date? I totally get you – I come from a family where these dates are more casual guidelines than actual rules. However, it was only once I started working in restaurants that the importance of food safety was drilled into me.
As it’s so important to understand pork freshness, I am going to explain how long pork is good for, what sell by dates actually are, and lots more!
According to the USDA, you should use or freeze fresh pork – or any fresh meat – between 3 to 4 days past its sell-by date.
This general rule stands for pork chops, pork tenderloin, pork roasts, fresh sausage, and any raw pork products really.
If you have bought ground pork or any ground meat, make sure that you cook it or freeze it up to two days past its sell by date.
I would urge you not to eat fresh pork so long after the date stated on the label. It isn’t a good idea as bacteria is likely to have set in at this point.
So, if you do cook and eat the pork at this point, there is a chance that you may still get food poisoning.
As you can see from above, raw ground pork has a much shorter shelf life than whole cuts of pork. So, why is this?
The thing is that, in general, ground pork has a higher risk of foodborne illness. This is because ground pork is far more processed than other cuts.
In the factory, a machine grinds a whole cut until it is thoroughly minced. The thing is, if there is any bacteria on the blades of the grinder, this is spread throughout the entire batch of ground pork. As a result, the ground pork can go bad a lot faster.
Back before I had anyone to teach me the difference, I would get confused between the sell by date and the use by date.
Well, the sell by date is decided by the company or the grocery store where you are buying your raw pork from. As the name suggests, this is the date by which the company is legally required to sell the fresh meat.
This is known as food product dating and is essentially there for inventory management.
This doesn’t mean that your raw pork is bad once you have passed this date. Rather, the company sells the raw meat at this point to avoid getting sued if someone falls ill after eating the meat after this date.
The sell by date is the last day that the company can guarantee that you are getting fresh and safe meat.
Ok, then what is the use by date? Well, you can think of this date as the expiration date of raw pork. It is quite likely that past this date, the meat is considered spoiled.
Here’s the kicker – no you can’t always trust the sell by date. If the pork wasn’t stored properly or if it was already tainted, then it is likely that the pork will get you sick even if you pay attention to the dates mentioned by the manufacturer.
Due to this, you should use the signs that I mention below to know if your pork is really good or not…
Now, I would avoid going against the manufacturers instructions. This isn’t a risk that you want to take. As I have said before, food poisoning is no fun. Also, young children and the elderly are more prone to severe bouts of illness and may even need to be hospitalized in certain cases.
However, if your pork is slightly past the sell by date and you still want to use it, here are some signs to know if the meat is spoiled or not:
The first thing that you might notice is the sour smell. Typically, pork has little to no smell. So, if it smells off or there is a sour odor coming from it, then the pork has gone bad and needs to be tossed.
You can also try touching the meat. If it has spoiled, then it will have a slimy texture and even be slightly tacky to the touch.
Last, but not least, the pork may look off. It could be greyish in color, be a pale pink, or there may be green or white patches on the meat. This could indicate mold.
If you aren’t going to be using the pork before it is supposed to expire, then you need to freeze the cut immediately or before the date recommended.
So, how long does pork stay good in the freezer?
You can store the pork in the freezer for 4 to 6 months. I do suggest using it before 3 months though for the best taste and texture.
Keep in mind that power outages, opening and closing the freezer constantly, and placing hot foods in the freezer can cause the temperature to rise. If the temperature gets too warm, the pork can still go bad.
Here are the guidelines to freeze pork properly:
It is just as important to defrost the pork properly as it is to store pork carefully. The best way is to let it thaw out in the refrigerator. This can take a long time depending on how large the cut of meat is.
To speed up the process, place the pork, tightly wrapped, in a cold water bath. Make sure to keep refreshing the container with cold water to defrost the meat faster.
No, it is not a good idea to eat pork that has been kept for so long – the risk of food poisoning is too high.
Definitely not! If the pork products are this old it is definitely time to toss them out!
There you go – you now know how long pork lasts past its best by date. This makes it a lot easier for you to get on the right side of food safety and ensure that you only cook the safest and healthiest foods for your family.