How long does bacon last in the fridge?
The USDA guidelines say that bacon has a safe refrigeration use-by date of one week. Raw bacon should be refrigerated immediately after purchase at 40°F (or approximately 4°C).
Raw bacon should be used within a week, or frozen for future cooking. It isn’t advised that you partially cook it, then refrigerate it to finish cooking later. According to the USDA, partial cooking does not effectively kill off all bacteria.
How long does cooked bacon last?
Cooked bacon will last approximately five to seven days in the refrigerator, whether it’s raw bacon that you’ve cooked and stored yourself, or shelf-stable precooked bacon bought from the supermarket.
If your bacon is precooked, refrigerate it immediately at 85°F (or approximately 29°C) to reach that maximum shelf life. Always follow the use-by date indicated by the manufacturer.
How to tell if bacon is off
If you’re not sure if that extra rasher is still safe to eat, here are some general rules that can help you tell right away:
- Your bacon smells a bit sour. This olfactory clue is most apparent with raw bacon. Any sour or sharp smells are a strong indication that bacteria are already growing on the meat, so if it smells strange, throw it out.
- The bacon has small mouldy flecks. Cooked meat can get mouldy if left too long in the fridge, so if you see small fuzzy white or blue spots on your bacon, it’s definitely not safe for consumption.
- The bacon is sticky. If your raw bacon is still soft and just a bit moist, it’s safe to eat. However, if you’re dealing with slimy bacon, that’s a sign of lactic acid bacteria, which can make meat slimy and indicate that it’s spoiled.
- The bacon is already grey. Old meat turns from pink to grey, and if your bacon has darkened, it’s already past its expiry date.
Always toss bacon into the bin as soon as you’re sure that it’s spoiled because it might contaminate other items in your refrigerator.
Can you freeze bacon?
Yes. To extend the shelf life of your bacon, it’s recommended that you freeze it. According to the USDA guidelines, when properly stored, frozen bacon can last up to six months in the freezer, although for the sake of maintaining bacon's best taste and texture, it's ideal to cook it within one month of freezing.
Can you cook bacon from frozen?
Yes, according to the USDA, it’s safe to cook bacon from frozen, but once defrosted, you need to cook it ASAP. Don’t defrost frozen bacon by leaving it out to warm on the kitchen counter. For slower, safe thawing, you can leave frozen bacon in the fridge, and it will be safe to eat for up to seven days.
If you’re thawing it in the microwave, it needs to be cooked immediately. Some portions of the bacon may have been cooked by the heat of the microwave, and this partial cooking means there may still be bacteria present. Once you’ve defrosted bacon in the microwave, you need to cook it completely before you put it back in the freezer.
What if I’ve eaten bacon that’s gone off?
If you’ve eaten expired or undercooked bacon, there’s a chance that you could get food poisoning. Some telltale symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps; but even if you aren’t feeling unwell yet, it’s wise to stay hydrated to flush your system clean.
If you’re uncertain that the bacon you ate was off, drink plenty of fluids. In the future, don’t risk it: if you’re not absolutely sure, throw it out. If your bacon is already spoiled, even a thorough cooking will not completely kill off bacteria.
Make your food last longer by learning proper storage guidelines
Though your cooked bacon will still be fine after a couple of days in the fridge, the way you’re storing it could be cutting its shelf life and making it unsafe to eat. Learn to rely on your sense of touch and smell to confirm if something is expired, and always check the use-by date on your food packages!