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How to purchase & store fresh meat

From the field to the freezer – a guide on how to purchase and store meat the right way

These are questions we are commonly asked about buying and storing fresh beef, lamb, veal and goat. Use them as a guide.

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Q: What should I look for when I’m buying ‘pre-packed’ meat?

Only buy meat from undamaged packaging. Ensure meat is sealed properly and that meat juices cannot run out. Feel or touch the packaging to determine whether it is still well chilled.

Always check ‘use by dates’. Meat may still look, smell and even taste acceptable after this date, but it is better to eat it within the suggested time.

Avoid meat that is discoloured, looks slimy or has ‘off’ odours.

Best tip

Shop for non-perishable food first. Shop for meats last, and use an insulated shopping bag (particularly in hot weather) to keep meat cold. If you need to travel for over 30 minutes, place your chilled and frozen food into an insulated cooler for the trip home.

Q: Why is recommended to take meat out of the plastic when storing in the fridge (as opposed to the freezer)?

Plastic will make meat sweat. If you intend to cook the meat the day it’s purchased, there isn’t any need to take it out of the plastic wrap. However, if you are planning to store the meat for longer, the meat is best transferred to a non-plastic dish and covered with foil or loosely covered with plastic to allow some airflow.

Place it in the meat compartment or on bottom shelf to ensure there isn’t any drip onto other foods.

Don’t put raw and cooked meat together in the same compartment of the fridge. Cover cooked and ready-to-eat food.

Q: Can I store fresh meat in plastic containers?

Yes, as long as air can circulate around the meat.

How long can I store fresh beef and lamb in the fridge for?

  • Sausages: 2 days
  • Mince (beef and lamb): 2 days
  • Beef and lamb strips: 2 days
  • Diced meat: 2 days
  • Thin steaks (minute): 2 days
  • Steaks: 2-3 days
  • Roasts (boned and rolled): 2-3 days
  • Roasts (bone in): 3-4 days
  • Corned beef (fresh): 1 week
  • Vacuum packed meat (unopened): 4-6 weeks

Is the temperature of your fridge and freezer important?

Yes! Regularly check that both the fridge and freezer operate at these temperatures:

  • Fridge temperature: 4ºC to 5ºC
  • Freezer temperature: -15ºC to -18ºC