March 12, 2024

How Long Does Bacon Last in the Fridge?

In 2023, more than 273 million Americans consumed bacon. Bacon is one of the most popular pork products on the market. However, bacon is also perishable and can make you sick if you do not store it correctly.

So, how long does bacon last in the fridge? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw bacon must be refrigerated at 40 °F or lower and used within seven days. Read on to learn how to safely store bacon in the fridge, how to tell if bacon has gone bad, and what can happen if you eat spoiled bacon.

cooked bacon on table
  • Bacon can be safely stored in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Proper storage, such as in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag, helps maintain bacon quality.
  • Check for any signs of spoilage before consuming bacon stored in the fridge beyond one week.

How To Tell When Bacon Has Gone Bad

After buying bacon at the grocery store, it’s easy to throw it in the fridge and forget about it. When you finally get around to eating it, you may wonder if it is still safe. Before cooking your bacon, the following tips can help you figure out whether it has gone bad.

Expiration Date

The first thing to check is the date on the packaging. Many bacon manufacturers provide a “use-by” date, which recommends the latest date you should consume the product. According to the USDA, use-by dates indicate when food is at peak quality. This is determined by the:

Bacon packaging may also have a “sell-by” date, which tells distributors how long to keep products for sale in their stores. After the sell-by date passes, product quality declines.

Though state laws may differ, federal law does not specifically require bacon producers to provide dates indicating product safety limits. Rather, best-by and sell-by dates are designed to help store management and consumers determine overall food quality. You can consider these dates when evaluating the freshness of your bacon and how long to keep it in your fridge.

Damaged Packaging

Next, take a close look at the bacon packaging itself. Well-packaged products stay fresh longer, whereas damaged packaging can lead to the bacon spoiling long before its sell-by or use-by date. Even if the bacon doesn’t look spoiled, broken seals or other damage could lead to visually imperceptible contamination from bacteria and other pathogens. When inspecting packaging, look for:

Foul Odors

After checking your bacon’s date and packaging, inspect the actual product. Start by smelling the bacon to see if there is a rancid, sour, sulfuric, or rotten stench. 

Other than a mild smokiness, raw bacon should not have a strong smell. When bacteria, mold, yeast, or other harmful microbes start to grow on bacon, they emit a foul odor you can smell upon inspection. If you notice these smells, discard the bacon.

Feel and Texture

Another way to tell if bacon has gone bad is to simply feel it. Bacon that has an unusually slippery or slimy feel may be contaminated with bacteria. Certain types of bacteria grow and spread easily on the meat. These pathogens can break down the fat and protein in bacon, resulting in a layer of slime.


Bacon’s color can also indicate its freshness. When inspecting bacon, you want to see red or pinkish meat with white, fatty marbling along the strips. Odd shades and discoloration may be a sign of spoilage. Do not consume bacon if it has:


Lastly, thoroughly check your bacon for signs of mold. Mold is a fungal growth that appears on the surface of foods and may penetrate invisibly into deeper layers. If you see white, green, or yellowish growth on any part of the bacon, it may have developed mold that can be harmful if ingested.

Side Effects of Eating Bad Bacon

Eating bacon that shows signs of spoilage is risky. You could ingest dangerous pathogens and develop serious foodborne illnesses, including:

Common side effects of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and dehydration. If you experience these symptoms and suspect bacon is the culprit, consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

How To Store Bacon

Storing bacon properly is essential to maintain its safety. Proper storage also ensures that bacon retains its taste, texture, and safety. Here’s how to store bacon, whether it’s unopened, opened, or cooked:

How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Fridge?

The USDA provides guidelines on storing different types of bacon to help consumers keep it fresh. Store raw bacon in the refrigerator at 40 °F or below for up to seven days. Raw bacon will keep indefinitely in the freezer. However, keeping it longer than four months will affect quality. 

If you purchased shelf-stable, cooked bacon, the USDA recommends storing it at 85 °F or below. Follow the use-by date on the package.

USDA Guidelines: Home Storage of Bacon 

Bacon Product Pantry Refrigerator – 40 °F or below Freezer – 0 °F or below
Salt pork N/A 1 month 4 to 6 months
Bacon N/A 7 days 4 months
Beef bacon N/A 7 days 4 months
Canadian bacon, sliced N/A 3 to 4 days 4 to 8 weeks
Poultry bacon N/A 7 days 4 months
Pancetta N/A 7 days 4 months
Dry-cured sliced bacon 10 days without refrigeration 4 weeks in the refrigerator 3 months
Dry-cured slab bacon 3 weeks without refrigeration 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator 3 months
Bacon cured without nitrites N/A 3 weeks in the refrigerator 6 months
Leftover cooked bacon, cooked by consumer N/A 4 to 5 days 1 month
Baby food with fresh bacon Observe “use-by” date. 2 to 3 days after opening (leftovers not heated) 1 month
Cooked bacon, purchased shelf stable Unopened in the pantry (stored below 85 °F) until the “use-by” date on the package After opening, refrigerate and use within 5 to 14 days. See the product package for specific recommendations. 3 months
Cooked bacon, purchased refrigerated Observe manufacturer’s “use-by” date. Observe the manufacturer’s “use-by” date. 3 months for best quality
Canned bacon in pantry 2 to 5 years in pantry 3 to 4 days after opening 2 to 3 months after opening
Bacon bits, made with real bacon Unopened in pantry, good until “sell-by” date After opening, refrigerate up to 6 weeks. 1 to 2 months
Imitation bacon bits (made with soy) 4 months in pantry Refer to jar for refrigerator storage. Not necessary for safety.

Source: “Bacon and Food Safety – Home Storage of Bacon Products.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. Last Updated: Oct. 29, 2013 (Retrieved: March 7, 2024).

Legal Help for Foodborne Illnesses

If you contracted a foodborne illness due to spoiled bacon, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Keep Food Safe can help you figure out if you are eligible for a food poisoning lawsuit by connecting you with an experienced lawyer. Contact us today to learn more.

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