Is It Safe To Eat 2-Year-Old Frozen Meat?

For people who love to cook and shop in bulk, the freezer has got to be one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented. First appearing in American homes in the 1940s, this is a device many of us probably take for granted — but couldn't live without. Freezing is a great way to add even more shelf life to ingredients and dishes you just don't have room for in the fridge — up to six months for most cheeses and breads, up to nine months for butter, and up to a year for many fruits, for example, according to Almanac.

But what about frozen meat? Many people, even those who maintain well-stocked freezers, often wonder about the freezer shelf life for these proteins. Do you have some years-old ground meat, steak, or chicken in the back of your freezer right now? If you're wondering how long your frozen meats will remain safe to eat, the answer depends on what type of meat it is.

Frozen meat should be tossed after a year at most

Frozen meat, like other frozen ingredients, will last a very long time in the freezer — but the exact amount of time depends on the protein. According to the handy cold storage chart located at FoodSafety.gov, ground meats have the shortest freezer shelf life, at three to four months. Fresh cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork — including steaks, chops, and roasts — will last for between four and 12 months. Whole chickens and turkeys will last for up to a year, while cut poultry pieces will last for up to nine months. What about already cooked and prepared meats? According to FoodSafety.gov, bacon can last up to a month and cooked sausages up to two months.

While years-old frozen meat might technically be safe to eat, its quality deteriorates over time, suffering changes to its color, flavor, and texture (via Almanac). The bottom line? The maximum amount of time meat can last in the freezer is one full year. After that, it's time to toss those freezer-burned hamburger patties.