Have you ever looked at bacon packaging, showing a past sell-by date, yet it looks so fresh that you are left wondering if you should ignore the sell-by date and consume it? Bacon expiration or sell-by date printed on the package does not necessarily tell how long the bacon can be eaten or use. In reality, bacon shelf-life is affected by so many factors. How can you store bacon in a way to optimize its shelf life?
Factors that determine bacon shelf life
Bacon can last for up to 2 weeks beyond the sell-by date on the package if it is properly stored. Bacon’sshelf life is greatly affected by many physical and environmental factors. Some of these factors are the type of bacon, method of storage, the state of the bacon. By the state of the bacon, we mean whether it is cooked or raw, whether it had been opened or not.
Bacon average shelf life by the state of bacon
Unopened bacon – The average shelf life of bacon that has not been opened is two weeks in the fridge and eight weeks in the deep freezer.
Opened bacon – If the bacon has been opened, it will last one week in the fridge and six months in the deep freezer.
Cooked bacon – Once the bacon has been cooked, it will last four to five days in the fridge and one month in the deep freezer.
Bacon average shelf life by method of storage
Bacon lasts longer in the deep freezer than it does in the regular refrigeration compartment. For bacon to last longer, ensure it is stored directly after use.
Bacon shelf life by type of bacon
Canadian bacon – Cooked Canadian bacon can last four to five days in the fridge and one to two months in the deep freezer.
Pancetta, turkey, and beef bacon – Unopened beef bacon, pancetta bacon, and turkey bacon can last two weeks in the fridge and two months in the deep freezer.
Bacon bits – bacon bits can last upto 6 weeks in the fridge and six months in the deep freezer.
Shopping for bacon
- Ensure the bacon is one of the last few things you pick as you proceed to check out. This move will ensure your bacon does not get to warm air for a long time before you can get home and promptly store it in the fridge or freezer.
- Try and avoid the “no nitrates” sticker. This sticker means that celery has been used instead of using sodium nitrate to cure the bacon. Celery, like all vegetables, has nitrates in plenty, so the difference is the same.
- Pick bacon that has just a few ingredients. The extra ingredients in bacon are usually preservatives and other chemicals.
- Always use bacon within seven days of the sell-by date or thaw and cook bacon within four months of freezing.
- Do not buy bacon that has even the slightest bit of mold. You can cut away some parts of moldy food, but with bacon, it’s a no-no!
- Be wary of the sodium intake. Some types of bacon contain up to 20% of your acceptable daily intake of sodium in very few slices.
Signs of expired bacon
The expiry date might be right or slightly past. How do you know that the bacon has gone bad? Your senses will come in handy here. Use your senses of touch, smell, and sight to spot these signs:
- Give the bacon a thorough look. The color of spoilt bacon may turn from the usual red to a dull grey, brown, or green color. The change in color on spoilt bacon is mainly caused by a chemical reaction on the meat from being exposed to air.
- Give the bacon a nice feel. Rather than being moist and soft to the touch, spoilt bacon may feel slimy or sticky. This sticky feeling is caused by lactic acid, which causes the formation of slime on meat.
- Give the bacon a whiff. The smell of spoilt bacon is acrid, fishy, rotten, and disgusting. The bacteria growing on the meat cause this nasty smell of spoilt bacon.
Discard spoilt bacon immediately to avoid contamination of other typed of stored food, especially other types of meat.
Can expired bacon make you sick?
Spoiled bacon contains bacteria, including salmonella, bacillus, clostridium, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus. Eating bacon that has gone bad will make you sick from food poisoning, giving you symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, abdominal pain, body aches, and diarrhea. A person may vomit blood, have severe diarrhea and dehydration, and extreme drowsiness in extreme cases. Consult your doctor if you have any of these symptoms from food poisoning.
Proper storage makes the bacon last longer. Bacon should be stored in the fridge or refrigerator immediately after use.
- Unopened bacon can be stored as bought. You can also wrap it in tin foil to prevent freezer burn. Do not store it in the freezer for too long as the fat may start tasting old and stale and become inedible.
- Opened but uncooked bacon should be wrapped in tin foil and put in the fridge or deep freezer in an airtight container to keep it fresh for longer.
- Cooked bacon should be separated piece by piece into smaller portions, wrapped in paper towels, then stored in the fridge.
Take home on bacon shelf life and expiration
How long bacon can stay fresh and edible depends on the type of bacon, method of storage, whether the bacon is cooked or raw, and whether it had been opened or not. Proper storage of bacon prolongs its shelf life and maintains its quality. Discard spoilt bacon immediately to avoid contamination of other types of stored food, especially types of meat. When in doubt, leave it out.