How Long does Food Last in the Fridge?

Knowing how long food lasts in the fridge will allow you to avoid becoming unwell. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know.
How Long does Food Last in the Fridge?

Last update: 14 February, 2019

It’s important to be aware that different foods have different rates of deterioration, and that there are many factors that influence the conservation of food. Although, what really makes food go bad is actually the reproduction of bacteria.

Even when food is cooked at high temperatures, bacteria are never completely eliminated. The number of bacteria that remains in the food will continue to multiply as time passes.

Certainly, harmful bacteria tend to grow more in protein-rich foods than in sugary foods. In the same way, the bacteria also develop faster in humid environments, so the drier foods will keep longer than wet ones.

On the other hand, you should know that food stored outside of the refrigerator at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded, as the bacteria multiply very quickly at room temperature.

Woman choosing food from the fridge.

How long does cooked food last?

Some foods should be kept in the refrigerator to help decrease the growth of germs and to keep food fresh and safe for longer. Although once the food has been cooked, it can’t remain at room temperature for more than two hours before being introduced in the refrigerator to stop the growth of bacteria.

When the food is in the refrigerator, you should eat the leftovers within three or four days, depending on what type of food it is, since bacteria can still grow even at refrigerator temperatures.

If you have trouble remembering how long a dish has been in the refrigerator, we recommend that you label the dishes with the date that they were cooked to help you keep a record. Also, if you think that you are not going to eat the food within three or four days, you should remove them from the fridge.

Next, we’ve prepared a list so you know how long you can keep the food in the fridge:

  • Hard cheese: 6 months.
  • Butter: from 1 to 3 months.
  • Olives: 1 month.
  • Fresh eggs: 3 to 5 weeks.
  • Soft cheese, unopened: 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Soft cheese, opened: from 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Hard eggs: 1 week.
  • Pork: 5 days.
  • Salads: from 3 to 5 days.
  • Fruits and vegetables: from 3 to 4 days.
  • Roasted fillets: 3 to 4 days.
  • Fish: from 3 to 4 days.
  • Meat: 3 to 4 days.
  • Cooked poultry: 3 to 4 days.
  • Mashed potatoes: 3 to 4 days.
  • Soups and stews: from 2 to 4 days.
  • Meat broth: 1 to 2 days.
Girl eating food from the fridge.

Tips to consider

Food poisoning and food-borne pathogens such as listeria or salmonella are real risks, but knowing how much time can pass before you consume a portion of food and when to discard food can be complicated. Therefore, you should take into account the following tips:

1.-When you have doubts don’t eat it

Firstly, we recommend that if you forget how long food has been in the refrigerator, it’s better not to risk it. Just throw the food. As we have mentioned before, labeling and recording the date is a good idea.

2.-Store the food wisely

For better storage, it’s advisable to distribute any hot leftovers into smaller portions. Then place them in shallow dishes to cool quickly. In addition, we recommend choosing thick containers so that the storage of food ensures that they are clean and in good condition. Choosing covered containers is the best option.

3.-Don’t leave dishes at room temperature for a long time

Finally, keep in mind that food left on the counter for too long can start to grow harmful bacteria, so you should refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible. Ideally, try placing the food in the refrigerator within 2 hours after cooking.

Finally, we recommend that you keep the fridge door closed as much as possible to keep the temperature cold. Never try foods to determine safety. You can’t always rely on appearance or smell to determine if food is in good condition.

In addition, it’s important to keep in mind how you feel after eating food from the refrigerator and possibly relate any slight physical symptoms that may appear after ingestion.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.