9

I ended up buying some ground beef that was 50% off, I left it in the refrigerator one day, and now when I was cutting it into 500g (1.1 pound) pieces to freeze, I noticed that it was only one day to the expiration date.

Could it still be frozen and be okay after two weeks? I heard if I cook it first, it can be stored for longer, is that something I have to do? and how long can it be stored?

P.S. I'm very worried about getting food poisoning, and I don't want to throw it away since I currently haven't a good budget.

13

It's fine to freeze, no need to cook if you don't want to; just be sure to use it immediately after thawing.

Freezing things essentially stops the clock: food will stay just as safe to eat no matter how long it's frozen. It can deteriorate but it's more about drying out (freezer burn), taking on odors, and so on, not safety. So since it's safe right now, it'll be safe frozen.

3

Ground meat can be dangerous (not in the sense of, e.g. mushrooms that are always poisonous, but by attracting bacteriæ). If you’re only cooking for yourself, you’re probably fine if you freeze it before it expires, but if you work in some sort of institution, there are usually rules that it has to be prepared (the core temperature must be high enough to kill off all bacteriæ) on the same day it was ground (not bought, note the difference). Regulations probably vary by country, and I never saw it for my home country either, I was just taught this as teenager when helping cook for a group home.

On the other hand, if you buy freshly ground meat, then roast/cook it (after seasoning if it has to be done beforehand), you can then let it cool down and freeze it, or even just put it into the refrigerator overnight to use on the next day.

I personally assume that what I buy was ground on the same day (though I rarely buy pre-packaged ground meat) and just roast it if I can’t use it in a meal on the same day, it’s only a couple of minutes of work in exchange for the safety of my food and stomach.

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Freshness of ground beef can be evaluated from odor, color and from difference in color between internal and external parts of the pack. Normal expiration dates are conservatively rated to avoid any possible troubles with customers. So it should be safe to freeze it.

As with all frozen foods, for thawing, place them in the fridge, never thaw at ambient temperature because the warm exterior can support quick bacterial growth. I place ground beef directly in the freezer because in the fridge it changes color rapidly and its odor quickly becomes unpleasant.

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    Color difference between the surface and interior is affected by the dyes that butchers add to make the meat more red (and visually appealing). In my experience, the first criteria you listed is the most important: odor. If food passes the sniff test, you can be 90% sure it is safe to eat (with a few exceptions for specific food items). – user21524 Dec 26 '15 at 22:59
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You should be okay if the meat is not rotten at the time of freezing. If you are concerned about the safety I'd suggest cooking it right away (freezer to pan) when you're ready to use it, rather than thawing it before cooking. It will be fine for browned beef to use in sauce, taco filling, etc.

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