Food Safety
Chart

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Knowing how to store and cook your food properly is essential for preventing foodborne illnesses. Consuming contaminated food can lead to serious health consequences, so following food safety guidelines is crucial. 

Our food safety chart is a comprehensive guide on how long you can store various types of food in the refrigerator and freezer, as well as the internal temperatures needed to ensure thorough cooking.

Referring to this chart can help you take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from the risks associated with improperly handled or undercooked food. Remember, if you suspect you got sick from consuming contaminated food due to someone else’s negligence, you may have legal options for seeking compensation. Keep Food Safe is here to connect you with experienced attorneys who can evaluate your case and explain your rights.

How Long Can Most Foods Sit Out?

Perishable foods can only sit at room temperature for a limited time before they become unsafe to eat. Foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products should not be left out for more than two hours. If the ambient temperature is above 90°F (32°C), they should not be left out for more than one hour.

When food is left out for too long, harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly. Eating food that has been left out for an extended period, especially overnight, significantly increases the risk of contracting foodborne illness. To minimize the risk, always refrigerate perishable foods promptly and avoid consuming anything left out for more than the recommended time.

What is the "Danger Zone”?

The “danger zone” refers to the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F (4°C and 60°C), in which harmful bacteria can grow most rapidly. When food is kept within this temperature range for more than two hours, it becomes increasingly susceptible to bacterial growth, which can lead to foodborne illnesses.

Some of the most common bacteria that thrive in the danger zone include Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, foodborne illnesses can lead to hospitalization or even death, particularly in vulnerable populations like young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

It is essential to keep hot foods hot (above 140°F/60°C) and cold foods cold (below 40°F/4°C) to prevent bacterial growth. When serving food buffet-style or during picnics and potlucks, use chafing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays to keep hot foods above 140°F (60°C. You should also consider nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice to keep cold foods below 40°F (4°C).

Food Type Store in Refrigerator Store in Freezer Cooking Internal Temperature
Milk Milk plain or flavored Package use-by date if refrigerated from the date of purchase 3 months if frozen from the date of purchase  N/A
Almond milk 7-10 days if refrigerated after opening Not recommended
Coconut milk 7-10 days if refrigerated after opening Not recommended
Milk lactose-free 1 week if refrigerated after opening Not recommended
Soy milk 7-10 days if refrigerated after opening Not recommended
Yogurt N/A 1-2 weeks 1-2 months  N/A
Salads Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, and macaroni salads 3-4 days Does not freeze well  N/A
Hot dogs Opened package 1 week 1-2 months 145°F (63°C)
Unopened package 2 weeks 1-2 months 145°F (63°C)
Luncheon Meats Opened package or deli-sliced 3-5 days 12 months  N/A
Unopened package 2 weeks 1-2 months
Bacon and Sausage Bacon 1 week 1 month 165°F (74°C)
Sausage, raw, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef 1-2 days 1-2 months 165°F (74°C)
Sausage, fully cooked, from chicken, turkey, pork, or beef 1 week 1-2 months 165°F (74°C)
Sausage, purchased frozen After cooking, 3-4 days 1-2 months from date of purchase 165°F (74°C)
Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them 1-2 days 3-4 months 165°F (74°C)
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork Steaks 3-5 days 4-12 months 145°F (63°C) Rest time: 3 minutes
Chops 3-5 days 4-12 months 145°F (63°C) Rest time: 3 minutes
Roasts 3-5 days 4-12 months 145°F (63°C) Rest time: 3 minutes
Ham Fresh, uncured, uncooked 3-5 days 6 months 145°F (63°C) Rest time: 3 minutes
Fresh, uncured, cooked 3-4 days 3-4 months 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Cured, cook-before eating, uncooked 5-7 days or “use by” date 3-4 months 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Fully-cooked, vacuum sealed at plant, unopened 2 weeks or “use by” date 1-2 months 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Cooked, store wrapped, whole 1 week 1-2 months 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Cooked, store wrapped, slices, half, or spiral cut 3-5 days 1-2 months 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Country ham, cooked 1 week 1 month 165°F (74°C) to reheat
Canned, labeled “Keep Refrigerated,” unopened 6-9 months Do not freeze  N/A
Canned, shelf-stable, opened Note: An unopened, shelf-stable, canned ham can be stored at room temperature for 2 years. 3-4 days 1-2 months
Prosciutto, Parma or Serrano ham, dry Italian or Spanish type, cut 2-3 months 1 month
Fresh poultry Chicken or turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year 165°F (74°C)
Chicken or turkey, pieces 1-2 days 9 months 165°F (74°C)
Fin fish Fatty Fish (bluefish, catfish, mackerel, mullet, salmon, tuna, etc.) 1-3 days 2-3 months 145°F (63°C) or cook until flesh is no longer translucent and separates easily with a fork
Lean Fish (cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, sole, etc.) 1-3 days 6-8 months 145°F (63°C) or cook until flesh is no longer translucent and separates easily with a fork
Lean Fish (pollock, ocean perch, rockfish, sea trout.) 1-3 days 4-8 months 145°F (63°C) or cook until flesh is no longer translucent and separates easily with a fork
Shellfish Fresh Crab Meat 2-4 days 2-4 months Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Fresh Lobster 2-4 days 2-4 months Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Live Crab, Lobster 1 day Not recommended Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Live Clams, Mussels, Oysters, and Scallops 5-10 days Not recommended Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Shrimp, Crayfish 3-5 days 6-18 months Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Shucked Clams, Mussels, Oysters, and Scallops 3-10 days 3-4 months Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Squid 1-3 days 6-18 months Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque
Eggs Raw eggs in shell 3-5 weeks Do not freeze in shell. Beat yolks and whites together, then freeze. Cook until yolk and white are firm
Raw egg whites and yolks Note: Yolks do not freeze well 2-4 days 12 months Cook until yolk and white are firm
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell Note: Toss any frozen eggs with a broken shell Use immediately after thawing Keep frozen, then refrigerate to thaw Cook until yolk and white are firm
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze
Egg substitutes, liquid, unopened 1 week Do not freeze Cook until yolk and white are firm
Egg substitutes, liquid, opened 3 days Do not freeze Cook until yolk and white are firm
Egg substitutes, frozen, unopened After thawing, 1 week or refer to “use by” date 12 months Cook until yolk and white are firm
Egg substitutes, frozen, opened After thawing, 3-4 days or refer to “use by” date Do not freeze Cook until yolk and white are firm
Casseroles with eggs After baking, 3-4 days After baking, 2-3 months 160°F (71°C)
Eggnog, commercial 3-5 days 6 months  N/A
Eggnog, homemade 2-4 days Do not freeze
Pies: Pumpkin or pecan After baking, 3-4 days After baking, 1-2 months
Pies: Custard and chiffon After baking, 3-4 days Do not freeze
Quiche with filling After baking, 3-5 days After baking, 2-3 months 160°F (71°C)
Cheeses Cheese hard such as cheddar, swiss, block parmesan 6 months if refrigerated from the date of purchase 6 months  N/A
3-4 weeks if refrigerated after opening
Cheese parmesan; shredded or grated 12 months Not recommended
Cheese processed slices 3-4 weeks Not recommended
Cheese shredded; cheddar, mozzarella, etc. 1 month 3-4 months
Cheese soft such as brie, bel paese, goat 1-2 weeks 6 months
Cottage cheese 2 weeks if refrigerated from the date of purchase Not recommended
1 week if refrigerated after opening
Cream cheese 2 weeks Not recommended
Butter N/A 1-2 months if refrigerated from the date of purchase 6-9 months if frozen from the date of purchase  N/A
Vegetables Bagged Greens leaf, spinach, lettuce, etc. 3-5 days Not recommended  N/A
Carrots 4 weeks 3 months
Tomatoes When Ripe 2 months
Peppers 4-14 days 6-8 months
Brussels Sprouts 3-5 days 10-12 months
Mushrooms 3-7 days 10-12 months
Fruits Berries 1-2 weeks 8-12 months  N/A
Apples 4-6 weeks 8 months
Bananas 3 days 2-3 months
Oranges 10-21 days Not recommended
Pineapple 5-7 days 10-12 months
Watermelon 3-4 days 12 months
Rice Cooked rice 4-6 days 6 months  N/A
Uncooked white rice 6 months if refrigerated after opening N/A
Uncooked brown rice 6 months if refrigerated after opening N/A
Soups and stews Vegetable or meat added 3-4 days 2-3 months  N/A
Leftovers Cooked meat or poultry 3-4 days 2-6 months 165°F (74°C)
Chicken nuggets or patties 3-4 days 1-3 months 165°F (74°C)
Pizza 3-4 days 1-2 months 165°F (74°C)
Food
Type NA
Store in Refrigerator 1-2 weeks
Store in Freezer 1-2 months
Cooking Internal Temperature N/A
Salads
Type Egg, chicken, ham, tuna, and macaroni salads
Store in Refrigerator 3-4 days
Store in Freezer Does not freeze well
Cooking Internal Temperature N/A
Hot dogs
Luncheon Meats
Bacon and Sausage
Hamburger, Ground Meats And Ground Poultry
Type Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them
Store in Refrigerator 1-2 days
Store in Freezer 3-4 months
Cooking Internal Temperature 165°F (74°C)
Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb, And Pork
Ham
Fresh Poultry
Fin Fish
Shellfish
Cheeses
Type N/A
Store in Refrigerator 1-2 months if refrigerated from the date of purchase
Store in Freezer 6-9 months if frozen from the date of purchase
Cooking Internal Temperature N/A
Vegetables
Fruits
Rice
Soups And Stews
Type Vegetable or meat added
Store in Refrigerator 3-4 days
Store in Freezer 2-3 months
Cooking Internal Temperature N/A
Leftovers

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2023, September 19). Cold Food Storage Chart. FoodSafety.gov. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

Other Ways That Food Gets Contaminated

In addition to improper storage and cooking temperatures, food can become contaminated through negligent handling. Some common examples include:

If you believe you contracted a foodborne illness due to someone else’s careless food handling, storage, or preparation, you may have grounds to bring a food poisoning lawsuit. Taking action sooner than later will help protect your rights. Contact us today to get connected with an experienced food safety attorney.

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