Defrosting meat at room temperature can promote bacterial growth even though it may be a common practice. There are three safe ways to thaw meat, and depending on how it was thawed, the time required to cook the meat varies.
Use the microwave to quickly thaw items if necessary. If you prepare ahead of time, you can defrost meat in the refrigerator. You can also thaw meat in cold water.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service states that refrigerator thawing varies by a few days depending on the type of meat and that microwave and cold-water thawing require immediate cooking.
The thawing method affects how long food remains safe after being thawed. While thawing in the refrigerator can buy you a few days, microwave thawing and thawing in cold water both require immediate cooking.
Safely Keeping Thawed Ground Beef in the Fridge
Ground beef that’s been defrosted in the fridge can be safely kept for an additional one to two days in the refrigerator before cooking, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA also advises that since you thawed the ground beef in the refrigerator, you can safely refreeze it within that same time frame.
On the other hand, none of this would be applicable if the ground beef had been thawed in a microwave or cold water.
The USDA recommends cooking any meat that has been thawed using one of those methods right away because it could easily reach the temperature of 40°F, where dangerous bacteria can quickly start to multiply.
How to Quickly Thaw Ground Beef | The Know It All Guide | FYI
How quickly should you cook beef after defrosting?
Cook meat and poultry products in the following time frames once they have been defrosted: Ground meat, stew meat, poultry, and seafood should all be prepared within one to two days. Red meat cuts (such as roasts, chops, and steaks of beef, pork, or lamb) should be prepared within 3 to 5 days.
Can I cook defrosted ground beef after 3 days?
The raw ground beef can be kept in the fridge for one to two days after it has thawed. Before cooking, all other beef cuts can be safely stored in the refrigerator for an additional 3 to 5 days. If you decide not to use the beef during this time, you can safely freeze it again without cooking.
How long can ground beef stay out after thawing?
Freezing meat keeps bacteria in a dormant stage. However, once thawed, these bacteria can become active again. Never let meat sit out of the refrigerator or on the counter to thaw for longer than two hours.
Is ground beef good after 3 days in fridge?
Ground beef can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, but it must be consumed within four days. Ground beef can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months. The minimum internal temperature for ground beef, as determined by a food thermometer, is 160°F (71°C).