Q:

How long can you keep cooked meat in the refrigerator?

A:

Quick Answer

Cooked meat or poultry can be safely stored in the refrigerator for three to four days. To ensure the food's safety, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends setting the refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Full Answer

Two types of bacteria sometimes grow on refrigerated foods: pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria grow on food that is left at a temperature of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for too long. These bacteria do not change the taste, smell or appearance of the food, but they are capable of causing foodborne illness. Spoilage bacteria are able to grow in cold temperatures and cause food to taste or smell unpleasant. Most spoilage bacteria do not cause illness.

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