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I have some bacon I took out of the freezer and put directly into the fridge to use this past weekend. Unfortunately, the weekend came and went without me cooking said bacon. It has been sitting in my fridge about 6 days in its unopened vacuum pack. The package says it is best by July 30 of this year (so another ~8 days).

Normally this would be the end of the story, but I once read that freezing cured meats actually lowers their shelf life and can lead to them becoming rancid quicker. Further, this pamphlet from the USDA states that bacon is only good up to 7 days in the fridge anyway. My question: should I go with the package date and use it within the next week or should I toss it and buy more?

  • Just my opinion so I dont want to enter this as an answer, but USDA often give generalized answers for worst case scenarios. If there are two types of bacon where one can last 2 week and the other only last 1 week, the USDA will say you shouldn't eat it after 1 week. The differences come from how these bacons are cured. Bacon when fully cured are suppose to last a very long time. But nowadays manufacturers only partially cure the bacon so the shelf life for these meat product will vary from company to company. So I'd go with the package date. Especially if its in a vacuum pack. – Jay Jul 22 '15 at 17:56
  • @Stephie I did miss the refreezing bit. I guess it'll keep til Saturday then. – user36981 Jul 22 '15 at 18:05
  • Usually dates on packages are assuming it's unopened until then. This is really obvious for dairy; for example sour cream might have a date two months off, but start to mold after a few weeks once opened. – Cascabel Jul 22 '15 at 18:31
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To quote from your own source:

It’s best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. After defrosting bacon by this method, it will be safe in the refrigerator for 7 days before cooking. If you decide not to use the bacon during this time, you can safely refreeze it without cooking it first.

And, further up:

It’s not important if a date expires after freezing bacon because all foods stay safe while frozen.

Let's look at what happens when you freeze food:

Due to the low temperatures, the growth of all1 molds, bacteria and other "nasties" is stopped or at least slowed down to an extremely slow rate. So from the perspective of your food, time is suspended while frozen. (Quality issues left aside, we are talking food safety here.)

So the clock starts ticking again once you defrost your food and can be stopped when re-freezing. Taking into account that your bacon was supposed to be good until the end of the month and freezing doesn't shorten that time, you should be fine at least until the original best-by-date.

In theory you could calculate

new date = thawing date + days left when freezing

But that's based on estimated bacterial growth, not taking possible quality issues into account - and we shouldn't always go to the limit, should we?.


1 "all" as in "all typical pathogens". Of course there are bacteria that thrive on ice, but those are not relevant here.

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