Does Deli Meat Go Bad?

Does deli meat go bad or not? Like all types of meat, deli meat does go bad, but you can make it last for a long time if you know how to store it properly.

You might be here because you realized you opened your deli meat last week and you’re wondering: oh, no, is this off?

Deli meat is a broad term for a varied range of products: from ham to turkey to salami.

Thankfully, the methods to store deli meat are the same across all the meats, and you can find out how to tell if your lunch meat is off below.

What’s the lowdown?

Deli meat lasts up to 10 days in the refrigerator once opened. However, if you prefer to only have a sandwich once in a while, you’re better off freezing your lunch meats.

Related:Does Ham Go Bad?Does Bacon Go Bad?Does Jerky Go Bad?

How Do I Tell If My Deli Meat Is Off?

ham and vegetables

There are some really easy-to-spot signs that your deli meat has gone off. These are:

  • Color: If your deli meat goes a pale grey, brown, or yellow hue, it’s time for the bin.
  • Mold: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. We wouldn’t recommend carving the mold off and eating the rest, as mold is a sign your deli meat is in a late state of decay.
  • Smell: Any unusual smells and your lunch meat is ready to go.
  • Slime: If your meat is covered by a thin sticky or slimy film, this is a sign of bacterial growth.
  • Soft Spots: Soft parts of deli meat is a surefire sign that bacteria or moisture has penetrated your meat.

If you spot any of the signs above, don’t even think about eating the rest of your deli meat.

How Do I Store My Lunch Meat?

deli meat sandwich

Storing your lunch meat is pretty simple. As soon as you’re home from the grocery store, pop your meat in the coldest area of the fridge. That’s likely to be the furthest corner, not the fridge door.

Once you’ve started to dig into your deli meat, you should transfer it to an airtight container and put that in the refrigerator. This ensures that bacteria and moisture stay out of your lunch meat.

If you want your deli meat to last for months, consider freezing it in an airtight freezer-safe container, or even its original unopened packaging.

How Long Will My Deli Meat Last?

cold deli meat

There is a whole range of different types of deli meats, made with different fat levels, flavorings, and curing processes. That means different deli meats last different lengths of time, despite storage instructions being exactly the same. Here are the most popular deli meats and how long they last.

Fresh deli meat will last 5-6 days past its printed best by date, and it will last 5-6 days in the refrigerator once opened.

Pre-packaged deli meat lasts 7-10 days past its printed best by date, so long as you store it in the refrigerator. It will last open for another 7-10 days in the fridge.

Bologna and salami have super high concentrations of fat, which means they last longer than other lunch meats.

Bologna will last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator once opened, whilst salami will last a hefty 2-3 weeks.

Want to know the best part?

You can store your deli meat in the freezer. This will keep pre-packaged deli meat for 6-8 months, salami for 2-3 months, and bologna for 1-2 months.

The Round-Up On Deli Meat

Deli meat certainly does go bad, despite its high salt content. Now you know exactly how to tell if your lunch meat is bad.

Lunch meats will last up to 10 days once opened in the refrigerator. Make sure you follow our instructions to extend storage periods!

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Alisa Shimoyama
Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.