How Long Does Red Meat Last?

How long does red meat last

If you are a carnivore like me, you probably can’t get enough of juicy steaks. You are also guilty of stocking up on diverse meat cuts. However, do you know how to store meat effectively? How long does red meat last? What are the sources of red meat? To quench your meaty thirst, read on!

All about Red Meat

The term ‘red meat’ refers to any meat which is red when raw.

This red hue stems from myoglobin – a red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in muscle cells. Myoglobin is choke-full of iron. Therefore, red meat is considered one of the best sources of this mineral.

Red meat has been part of human diet for centuries. In fact, in early civilization, not only did people hunt, they also domesticated animals for consumption as well as a source of livelihood. In every culture, red meat is prepared, eaten and enjoyed uniquely.

Red Meat Sources

What is considered red meat? Here is a list of renowned red meat sources:


This is one of the most popular and consumed red meats globally. Beef is obtained from cattle purposely raised and bred for meat production.

The meat is produced from mature cattle, whereby almost 50% of the animal is butchered for meat. The remaining bits are used for industrial purposes.


Goat meat is one of the tastiest. Goats are majorly domesticated for meat, milk and skin. The meat is also considered to be lower in calories, higher in iron and leaner compared to other red meats.

Lamb and Mutton

Lamb meat is from young baby sheep. On the other hand, mutton is obtained from mature sheep of over 2 years.

To distinguish the two, look at the appearance. Lamb has a pale-pink hue and is softer. Mutton has a darker-pink hue and firmer texture.


This is obtained from young beef animals/ calves. It is tender, has a pale gray hue and is costlier than regular beef.

Nutritional Value of Red Meat

Red meat consumption sparks juicy debate. This is because it has been associated with bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body.

However, the other side of the story also prevails. Like with other food items, numerous factors come into play when determining nutrition and health viability.

For instance, organically bred, grass-fed and free-ranging red meat animals give off healthier meat compared to factory reared ones. Lean meat cuts are also healthier. Therefore, it is imperative to have an open-minded approach.

Nutritional composition of red meat may vary. This is mainly due to feeding routine and animal breed. Nonetheless, red meat has vital nutrients that cut across the mentioned sources.

Generally, red meat is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Check them out:

Protein and Amino acids like Glutamine

Without proteins, humans are as good as dead. Proteins are the body’s building blocks. They are critical in building cells, tissues, muscles, bones, skin and cartilage. Proteins are also critical in repairing body tissues. Additionally, they help in blood oxygenation and circulation.

Vitamin B6, B12, Niacin, Thiamin

B vitamins are critical in body metabolism, facilitating muscle, enzyme and cell functions as well as cognitive functions. For instance, vitamin B6 aids in red cells formation.


This mineral plays a supportive role in the body. First of all, it aids in bone and teeth development. Additionally, it promotes protein synthesis, thus enabling the growth and repair of body tissues and cells.


This lesser known essential mineral plays a crucial role. Selenium helps in thyroid function, aids in fertility, minimizes oxidative stress damage as well as boosts the immune system.


Did you know that iron and energy levels in your body are related? This crucial mineral facilitates oxygen transportation in the body via red blood cells.

It also aids in numerous chemical processes which release energy in the body. This simply means that iron deficiency is often identified by lethargy and fatigue.

The iron found in red meat is known as haem iron. This is readily absorbed into our bodies. The other type of iron is non-haem iron, mostly obtained from plants.


Another vital mineral, zinc promotes proper function of the immune system. It also facilitates carbohydrate metabolism as well as cell growth.

Shelf life of fresh, raw, cooked, frozen, processed and dried meat

Meat is not only highly perishable, it is also one of the major sources of food contamination.

In view of this, it is imperative to exercise caution when handling and storing meat, whether raw or cooked. This goes a long way in ensuring that you maximize on its shelf life. This guarantees using meat when in good quality.

The shelf life of red meat majorly depends on its state – raw, jerky, cooked, frozen, etc.

As a rule of thumb, fresh, raw and cooked meat have the shortest shelf life. As a matter of fact, fresh beef cuts keeps well in the refrigerator for 2 days at most.

If you don’t intend to eat right away, freeze the meat. Well frozen meat cuts keep well for up to 8 months. Properly cooked meat stays fairly longer in the refrigerator – 1 week.

Apart from fresh meat, processed and deli meat are other popular choices. These include bacon, ground meat, salami, sausages, brawn, pepperoni, hot dogs, ham and bologna.

They are usually made from either of the red meats, white meat or a combination.

These types of meat come packaged with a sell by date, best chilled by date as well as best frozen by date.

Ensure you use these dates as guidelines. Nevertheless, you can still use after the printed date has elapsed, but with caution. Rule out any spoilage indicators before using.

For example, opened pepperoni and salami can stretch up to 3 weeks after their printed date. Fresh deli meat can last for 6 days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, they keep well for up to 6 months.

On the other hand, meat jerky or dried meat has the longest shelf life. Drying extracts moisture which hastens spoilage. Store any dried meat in airtight containers. Well stored dried meat keeps well for up to 2 years.

Effective handling and storage tips

  • Never mix meat with other food items. This is a surefire way of food contamination.
  • Use heavy duty storage items for meat. This is because it easily picks up odor from strong smelling foods.
  • Use the bottom shelf or refrigerator to store meat. This prevents its juices from spilling on to other foods.
  • Avoid bulk buying to minimize wastage. Even properly stored food can spoil for one reason or another.


This is how you can identify spoiled meat:

  • Pungent, sulfuric smell, similar to rotten eggs.
  • Discoloration – from red or pale pink to dark brown or ashy grey.
  • Sticky, slimy texture
  • Visible mold

Discard such meat immediately. Never use rotten meat as compost as it attracts maggots.

For any carnivore out there, questions such as “How long does red meat last?” or “Just how healthy is red meat?” are sure to boggle your mind. The above post lets you in on all things red meat.


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