Reading ‘sell by’ and ‘packed on’ dates for meat can be a little more confusing. For instance, it’s recommended that you eat lunch meats three to five says after you buy them. But many people forget that freezing food keeps it fresh and nutrient-filled for much longer. If frozen, deli meat last for up to two months, and beef stew meat can be used after nine months in the freezer.
The USDA acknowledges that people throw out their food too early, and suggests freezing as a way to reduce waste. On the agency’s blog, health officials write: “Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat. Foods that have been in the freezer for months may be dry, or may not taste as good, but they will be safe to eat. So if you find a package of ground beef that has been in the freezer more than a few months, don’t throw it out. Use it to make chili or tacos. The seasonings and additional ingredients can make up for loss of flavor.”