Turkey is a popular choice for holiday dinners and everyday meals alike. It’s delicious, nutritious, and can be prepared in various ways. One convenient way to enjoy turkey is by purchasing it pre-sliced from the deli. Sliced turkey is popular for sandwiches, salads, and other dishes. But how long can you store it in the refrigerator before it goes bad?
Proper storage and handling of sliced turkey are important to prevent food poisoning and ensure that it stays fresh and safe. In this article, we will guide how long sliced turkey can last in the fridge and give tips for storing it properly. So you can enjoy your turkey without worrying about spoilage or food poisoning.
How Long does Sliced Turkey Last in the Fridge?
The answer is short if you’re wondering how long an uncooked turkey will keep in the refrigerator. A raw turkey can be kept for one to two days before becoming bad. The level of freshness and the refrigerator’s temperature will determine how long food will stay on the shelf.
After cooking, sliced turkey breast, leftover thighs, wings, and drumsticks should be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Sliced deli turkey can be stored for a few extra days in vacuum-sealed packaging, but once the package is opened, the meat needs to be eaten within a week.
Sliced turkey and all meat products must be stored in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Lethal germs may be present in meat exposed to the “danger zone” (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for more than two hours.
Sliced Turkey’s Shelf Life:
Cooked Sliced Turkey: The cooked turkey should be refrigerated for three to four days at 40°F or less. The development of bacteria is slowed but not stopped by refrigeration. Retain covered leftovers.
Pathogenic bacteria can quickly multiply in the “Danger Zone” (40°F to 140°F). Because pathogens don’t alter the flavor, aroma, or look of food, they are impossible to identify. To prevent food spoilage and foodborne illness, clean, segregate, cook, and chill.
UnCooked Sliced Turkey: Only one to two days of refrigerator storage are allowed for raw turkey flesh. After handling raw turkey, wash your hands. A food storage bag with extra air removed should include sliced cold cuts.
Cold cuts can be stored for five days, whereas raw turkey only lasts one to two days. To be sure, it’s usually advisable to toss out frozen turkey if you have any questions because it doesn’t keep for very long before it accumulates dangerous bacteria that could contaminate food.
Reference: Evaluation of shelf life of cured, cooked, and sliced turkey fillets stored under vacuum and modified atmospheres at +4 and +10 °C.
Turkey breast slices that had been roasted, cured, and then thinly sliced were used to test the shelf life of various modified atmospheres (MA) at +4 and +10 °C. According to the study, both items had an average shelf life of two weeks at four degrees Celsius and one week at ten degrees Celsius. It is found that, in contrast to vacuum packaging, the use of MA packaging in these experiments did not increase or decrease the product’s shelf life.
Can you Freeze Turkey Slices?
Yes, you can freeze turkey slices. To freeze turkey slices, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or place them in a resealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag to prevent freezer burn.
The slices can also be frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet, and after they have frozen, they can be moved to a bag or container. When ready to use them, thaw the slices in the refrigerator or microwave. Turkey slices will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How should Sliced Turkey be Stored?
It is important to handle sliced turkey safely to prevent the risk of food poisoning. This means washing your hands before handling the turkey and using clean utensils and cooking equipment. Sliced turkey should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and prevent the growth of bacteria. Avoid leaving sliced turkey at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing. Here are two options for storing sliced turkey:
Option1. In the Refrigerator:
Place the sliced turkey in a covered container or securely wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. If the turkey was not packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag or container, it is crucial to tightly seal it to protect the air from coming into contact with the meat. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria and keep the turkey fresh. Sliced turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Option 2. In the Freezer:
Sliced turkey can be frozen tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a sealed plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag to prevent freezer burn. You can also freeze the slices in a single coat on a baking sheet, then transfer them to a bag or container once they are frozen. This will help to prevent the slices from sticking together, making it easier to take out only the amount of turkey you need. Sliced turkey will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Why does Sliced Turkey become Slimy?
Sliced turkey can become slimy when it is not stored or handled properly. The slime is caused by bacteria that grow on the surface of the meat. If the turkey is stored at an insufficiently cold temperature or left at room temperature for an extended period, bacteria may begin to form on the slices.
Sliced turkey should be stored in the freezer at or below 0°F (-18°C) or in the refrigerator under or below 40°F (4°C). If the sliced turkey is not stored at a cold enough temperature, bacteria can grow on the surface of the meat and produce a slimy film. Sliced turkey can also become slimy if it is not handled properly.
This means washing your hands before handling the turkey and using clean utensils and cooking equipment. Avoid leaving sliced turkey at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing. If the sliced turkey has become slimy, it is no longer safe to eat and should be thrown out. It is always better to err on caution and waste a little bit of food than to risk getting sick from eating spoiled meat.
Does Reheating Sliced Turkey Destroy Bacteria?
Reheating sliced turkey can help to destroy bacteria and make the meat safe to eat again. However, it is extremely crucial to reheat the turkey to a temperature high enough to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. To be safe to eat, the core temperature of reheated leftovers, including sliced turkey, should be at least 165°F (74°C), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It is best to use a food thermometer to ensure that the turkey has reached this temperature. It is also important to handle the reheated turkey safely to avoid contaminating it with bacteria. This means washing your hands before handling the turkey and using clean utensils and cooking equipment.
If the sliced turkey has been refrigerated and properly reheated, it should be safe to eat. However, if you are unsure whether the turkey is still good or was not handled and stored properly, it is best to discard it to avoid the risk of food poisoning. Avoid leaving the turkey at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing.
How to Thaw Frozen Sliced Turkey?
A frozen sliced turkey can be defrosted in several ways, including in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. Here are some specific steps for each method:
- In the refrigerator: To thaw a frozen sliced turkey, place it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The time it takes to defrost the turkey will depend on the slices’ size and the refrigerator’s temperature. For example, it will take over a day to thaw a 2-pound package of sliced turkey. To give you an idea, for every 5 pounds of turkey, give yourself roughly 24 hours.
- In cold water: To thaw frozen sliced turkey in cold water, place the turkey in a resealable plastic bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to store it cold. The turkey should thaw within a few hours, depending on the size of the slices.
- In the microwave: To thaw the frozen sliced turkey, follow the microwave’s instructions for defrosting meat. Use a microwave-safe dish and arrange the slices in a single layer. The turkey should thaw within a few minutes, depending on the slices’ size and the microwave’s power.
Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to handle the sliced turkey safely to prevent the risk of food poisoning. This means washing your hands before handling the turkey and using clean utensils and cooking equipment. Avoid leaving the turkey at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent bacteria from growing.
How to Recognize when Sliced Turkey is Bad?
There are a few signs that sliced turkey may be bad:
- Color: Freshly sliced turkey is a pale pink color. If the turkey slices have turned a grey or brown color, this may be a sign that they are no longer fresh.
- Odor: Fresh turkey has a mild, slightly poultry-like smell. If the sliced turkey has a strong or unpleasant odor, it is likely no longer fresh.
- Texture: Fresh turkey slices should be firm and not slimy or sticky. If the slices feel slippery or have a slimy film, they are likely no longer fresh.
- Mold: If you see any visible mold on the sliced turkey, it is no longer safe to eat.
If you are still determining whether the sliced turkey is still good, it is always best to err on caution and throw it out. It is better to waste a little bit of food than to risk getting sick from eating spoiled meat.
What Happens if you Spoiled Sliced Turkey?
You may have symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever if you consume spoiled turkey slices. These symptoms could manifest within a few hours to a few days after consuming the rotten turkey.
Food poisoning includes stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration. Food poisoning can also be induced by eating rotten meat, an illness caused by eating food contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Food poisoning can result in hospitalization or even death in severe cases.
If you assume that you have eaten bad sliced turkey and are experiencing symptoms, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible. They can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment. In the meantime, drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration, and try to rest as much as possible.
In conclusion, sliced turkey has a shelf life of 3-4 days in the fridge when stored properly. It can be frozen for up to 2 months to extend its shelf life. Sliced turkey should be held in the refrigerator’s deepest corner and wrapped firmly or placed in an airtight container.
It’s also a good idea to use it within two days of purchasing it from the deli for optimal freshness and taste. When thawing the frozen sliced turkey, place it in the fridge and use it within 3-4 days.
Sliced turkey should be heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to eradicate microorganisms. Following these guidelines, you can safely enjoy sliced turkey as a delicious and convenient meal option.