Last Updated on 28th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
Food safety is a really important part of being cook. It’s not enough to know how to cook food well; you also need to know how to prepare it and store it in such a way so that it doesn’t become contaminated.
You need to know how long the food lasts for in the fridge or freezer and how long it is good to eat after it is placed into the refrigerator.
Each food has its own shelf life or expiration date. Once a food reaches that date, it is probably not good anymore, and it is at risk for developing mould or simply not being good to eat.
Steak is a common household meal but how long is steak good in the fridge?
What Happens When Food Goes Bad?
Food that is no longer safe to eat may have broken down into unhealthy components, no longer looking like edible food. Probably long before it reaches that stage, though, it will start to smell. You may smell the problem before you see it when it comes to spoiled food.
What’s causing this is microscopic bacteria, and all of our food has some bacteria on it? Now, small amounts of bacteria may not be harmful to you, and your body can probably deal with them just fine. However, once the bacteria starts to multiply, then the food can become thoroughly contaminated.
This is an inevitable process, since bacteria is a living thing, and lots of bacteria types eat food. So, the longer the food stays in the fridge, the rottener it becomes because there will be more and more bacteria growing on it.
The fridge keeps some of the bacteria out and may stifle some of the bacterial growth. That’s why food will go bad faster if the container it is in is left open or the food is simply left out on the counter. In those instances, there is nothing to hold back the growth of bacteria.
This is also why food stays good for longer in the freezer. Bacteria has a very difficult time living in freezing temperatures; plus, the freezer is airtight and does not let any new bacteria in. Your food may be able to stay good for months or even years in there.
What Happens to Steak When It Goes Bad?
Steak will undergo the same kind of deterioration processes as other meats- it will smell bad and taste bad if you are brave enough to test its flavour after it has started to spoil.
Rotten meat is not good for you and will probably cause indigestion at the very least. It could cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, headaches and more, so don’t test your luck with potentially spoiled meat.
One way to tell if the meat has gone bad is to smell it. If it smells different than it should or smells unpleasant, then the odds are good that it has spoiled. That smell test is only necessary if you don’t know how long it is good for. Let’s answer the question of how long is steak good for in fridge storage.
How Long Is Steak Good for in the Fridge?
So, you cooked up a steak with some nice seasonings, but you made too much of it to eat at once. So, it gets placed in the fridge for storage until you have some room in your stomach for it.
Then, you forget about the steak for a few days, going back to look through the fridge for something to eat and you happen to see it. Is it still good to eat? How long is steak good for in fridge storage anyway?
It’s questionable food that you want to eat because you are thinking about how delicious it was the first time, but you also don’t want to spend the night vomiting and the next day staying home sick from work. So, do you eat it or not?
You can eat it if it has been in the fridge for less than four days and has been stored at a temperature of 40°F or less. This is according to USDA recommendations, and they give cooked steak anywhere from three to four days, so you have some wiggle room there. Be careful about stretching it too far.
The rule of thumb with questionable food is to be safe rather than sorry. You will never regret avoiding severe stomach pain, diarrhoea or vomiting, so toss out the meat if there is any question about its safety. Remember that refrigeration slows down bacterial growth but does not stop it entirely.
How Long Is Steak Good for Raw?
kay, so what if you put raw steak in the fridge, planning to cook it up when it is the right time? How long would that steak be good for and how does it compare to cooked steak?
You actually have more time to work with when it comes to raw steak in the fridge than cooked steak. The raw steak is less susceptible to bacterial infection, even though bacteria loves certain other kinds of raw meat. According to USDA guidelines, raw steak should be cooked within five days before it can be considered rotten.
Raw meats may change colour once they go bad, so look for that telltale sign that you need to stay away from it.
The five-day grace period you get with raw steak really depends on how it was stored. If you are wondering how long is raw steak good in the fridge, you need to take into consideration what temperature it is kept at and if it is kept in airtight packaging.
Raw steak definitely lasts longer when it is sealed up tightly and kept very cold. Remember that bacteria hates very cold temperatures, but the closer you get to room temperature, the easier it is for bacteria to thrive and spread.
When someone asks how long is steak good for in fridge storage, they are usually talking about raw steak, but make sure you pay attention to the different shelf lives of steak in its different forms.
How Long Is Steak Good for Defrosted?
We said earlier that frozen foods last much longer than refrigerated ones. That’s true even if you put a frozen steak into the fridge. Of course, the steak won’t stay frozen there, as it will gradually warm and become the same temperature as the fridge and the other foods around it.
You will have more time to leave it before cooking the steak if you take it frozen from the freezer and place it into the fridge.
This is a good way to allow the steak to thaw before it is prepared, and you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving it out of the fridge and forgetting about it this way.
Some people like to take their meat out of the freezer and place it onto their kitchen countertops to let the meat thaw out quickly. They would usually place it into a basin to allow the moisture to collect there rather than run all over the countertop.
The problem with that method is that sometimes people forget about their meat and get busy with something else. Then, when they remember and come back to the meat, it is too late- it has already spoiled.
So how long is defrosted steak good for in the fridge? To answer that, we have to first consider how long it takes for the steak to defrost. A typical steak will take anywhere from one to two days to thaw out completely and reach the same temperature as the rest of the food in the fridge.
From there, you will have about three to five days to cook the steak before it goes bad. Don’t let it sit in there for too long or it will spoil and you won’t be able to eat it.
How Long Is Steak Good for After the Sell-By Date?
Your concerns may go beyond just wondering how long is cooked steak good in fridge? If you take a look at the steak’s packaging, it will have a sell-by date on it. You may be wondering if it is still good to eat after that, and the short answer is yes.
The sell-by date simply means it needs to get home to your fridge by that point, and from there, it will be good for another 3-5 days, just as if you had placed it there straight from the butcher. You don’t have to worry about the steak spoiling as soon as it reaches the sell-by date.
You may see another date in addition to that- the expiration date. Now, that one you will need to pay even closer attention to, as it tells you when the food is no longer good, but bear in mind that this is just an estimate.
You should still check the food yourself with a sniff or sight test and then go by the timeframes we have listed as well that the USDA recommends. It is okay to eat steak that has exceeded its expiration date if it has not been in your fridge for more than five days and it smells and looks okay.
What Should I Do with Spoiled Steak?
So, you searched for how long is a steak good for in the fridge and came up with an answer that tells you your steak is spoiled. What do you do with that food now since it isn’t edible for you? You might be tempted to give it to your dog, but is that safe?
No, you should not feed your dog or cat spoiled meat. While your pets can probably handle the food better than you can and will be less likely to experience food poisoning, the food can still be harmful to them. It can cause indigestion, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and all the other symptoms it would give you.
Your dog has a more acidic stomach than you, so it can take the spoiled food easier with fewer repercussions, but that still isn’t a good idea.
You want to safely dispose of any spoiled meat. It should be sealed up tightly and disposed of with household garbage. If you leave it uncovered at all, it will attract maggots and create a health hazard.
Use Your Senses
All this talk about how long is steak good for in the fridge may make you feel confident about eating steak that is obviously gone bad. Don’t ignore what your eyes and nose are telling you because you estimated that there is another day or two before the USDA recommends you toss out the meat. Don’t take your chances with meat that appears to be spoiled in some way, because it probably is.
Sometimes, bacteria get in faster than they should and spread much quicker than you would expect, so steak can go bad before it reaches its expiration date or before it reaches the period of shelf life recommended by the FDA.
So, how long is steak good for in fridge storage? Start with the shelf life periods we have given you, but definitely overrule that and consider the food rotten if it looks bad or smells bad. You may miss out on some tasty steak this way, but you will definitely miss out on feeling sick to your stomach as well, and we think that’s worth it.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here