Tips to properly store your online bought meat

Receipt control

After receiving your meat before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer, check whether all vacuum packaging is still properly vacuumed. If this is not the case, remove the product from the packaging and repack it, vacuum if necessary and place it directly in the refrigerator or freezer.

In vacuum-packed meat, lactic acid forms, this smells after opening the packaging, pat the meat dry and let it air for a while, after 30 minutes the vacuum smell has largely disappeared. The longer the meat is in a leaking vacuum package, the smell will increase and the shelf life will decrease.

Below are a few more points to consider and tips:

Meat and processed meats are tasty and valuable products that only come into their own when they are handled carefully. And that doesn’t just apply to the preparation. The way in which meat and meat products are stored is also of great importance. After all, they are perishable products. On this page you can read exactly what you should pay attention to when storing. In this way you will be able to enjoy meat and meat products to the fullest.

Because the products are perishable, it is important to contact us within 6 hours of receipt if a product does not meet the requirements. The normal Right of Withdrawal does not apply to perishable products.

Good cooling is important

The shelf life of meat and meat products strongly depends on the temperature. Between 10ºC and 60ºC, meat and meat products only stay good for a few hours. This is caused by certain bacteria that can spoil the meat. Ground meat and sliced meat products are especially sensitive to this. Therefore: avoid as much as possible that your meat purchases lie too long on the counter in your kitchen or, for example, in the back seat of your car. Put them in your refrigerator (2º to 7ºC) as soon as possible. This considerably extends the shelf life of the meat.

What is spoilage?

We speak of spoilage when bacteria start to multiply quickly in the meat, or when it becomes moldy. Such a situation occurs when meat is stored for too long at too high a temperature. With this so-called microbiological spoilage you will clearly smell and see that the meat is no longer fresh. It is therefore unwise to consume it. Another type of spoilage is chemical spoilage. Although bacteria have no effect on the meat – because it is in the freezer, for example – a chemical process in the meat can certainly change the necessary. This process generally takes a little longer. Fats can be broken down, making the meat smell less pleasant. The meat then becomes rancid. That less pleasant smell already indicates that something is not right with the product. However, the lower the temperature, the less likely rancidity will set in. Meat that has been ground through salt can turn rancid again more quickly. And dry sausage, for example, will go rancid faster if it is exposed to light for a long time.

A safe temperature

Temperature plays an important role in the storage of meat and meat products. The lower the temperature, the less likely it will spoil. The refrigerator is therefore a favorable place to store them. An even safer place to store is the freezer. With a temperature of -18º to -20ºC, bacteria cannot cause damage here. When heated (cooking, baking, roasting) most bacteria disappear from the meat. Meat that has been heated through and through (cooked) usually has a longer shelf life. It must, of course, be properly packaged and, depending on the packaging method, stored at the correct temperature. However, cooked meat cannot be kept indefinitely. After all, it is and remains a product with nutrients on which bacteria can grow well, and which therefore always runs the risk of spoiling.

Freeze wisely

In the freezer (-18º to -20ºC) you can easily store frozen meat and meat products for an average of 1 to 6 months. After that, the quality declines. Because fat can go rancid, the fatty types of meat can be stored for a shorter period of time. Products in which salt has been processed (such as snails, hamburgers, fresh sausage and other quickly prepared items) can go rancid much faster and therefore have a shorter shelf life. If you buy industrially prepared and frozen products, there is always a clear shelf life on the packaging.

Freezing meat is best done as quickly as possible. When frozen slowly, the meat juice forms large crystals. These affect the quality of the meat. When defrosting, a lot of juice is lost. As a result, the meat dries faster and therefore also loses flavor and nutrients.

Slow defrost

Unlike freezing, thawing is best done slowly. The best method is to let the frozen meat thaw on a plate or bowl in the refrigerator. The meat protein can then absorb the released meat juice again. This keeps the meat much juicier. For small meats, such as chops and steaks, it takes 5 to 6 hours to thaw. With large meats (roasts, roulades) you should count on about 12 to 15 hours. If the meat needs to be thawed quickly, a microwave can offer a solution. Another method is to place the meat in a container of cold water or under gently running cold water in the closed package. Meat that is stewed or from which broth is drawn (and is therefore thoroughly cooked), can be placed frozen in the pan. However, you should take into account a longer preparation time. Another tip: never thaw meat in hot water or on the heating. It then loses a lot of moisture and can spoil quickly. Once thawed, meat cannot be refrozen. Meat also loses a certain amount of moisture through freezing. By refreezing you risk that your meat will become dry during preparation and also lose its taste. In addition, bacteria have a much greater hold on the meat if it is frozen again after thawing. If you still want to freeze it again, it is best to prepare the meat first. The meat liquid is then well bound and spoilage is prevented.

Freezing Tips

  • Make small flat packages in portions and place them against the wall in the freezer compartment. This makes freezing the fastest.
  • Remove the air from the packaging as much as possible. Air insulates, it takes longer before the meat is frozen. Therefore, do not use insulating packaging such as polystyrene trays.
  • Make sure the freezer is at the right temperature, both when freezing and when storing. Therefore, before freezing, check the instructions for use of your freezer again.
  • A freezer compartment in a refrigerator usually has insufficient freezing capacity. It can be used to store already frozen products, but for a shorter period.
  • Place a sheet of foil between the steaks and chops. This prevents sticking together.
  • Pack meat in special airtight frozen packaging. This prevents discoloration and dehydration. Ordinary household foil is therefore less suitable. It allows too much air and water vapor to pass through, so that the meat does dry out.
  • Freeze soup or meatballs separately for an hour on a tray or a sheet of foil. This will prevent them from sticking together later. When they are frozen, you can easily pack them together in a freezer bag.
  • Strong stock can be frozen in small freezer boxes or margarine tubs. This is useful if you only need a little bit. For example for a cup of stock or a deciliter of sauce.

Ragout, goulash and stews that have already been prepared gain in flavor when they are frozen for a while.

Prepackaged meat and meat products

Meat and meat products in cans or glass generally have a longer shelf life. That can take up to several years. There is an expiry date on the packaging. In an intact, closed packaging, these products remain good until at least that date (if stored according to the instructions on the packaging). After that, the quality may deteriorate. Meat and meat products are also available in a vacuum and in the so-called gas packaging (or atmosphere packaging). Meat and meat products remain good for several weeks in these packaging. You can store them in the refrigerator for at least 1 day after the expiry date. Once this type of packaging has been opened, the contents can be kept just as long as unpackaged meat and meat products.

Various meat products

In industry, meat and meat products are also vacuum packed. All air (and therefore also oxygen) is removed from the packaging. This increases the shelf life. Another packaging is the gas packaging or the atmosphere packaging. With this method of packaging, the composition of the air has been changed. Meat and meat products in proper packaging have the same shelf life as when they are vacuum packed. They also have the advantage that sliced meats do not stick together. Nowadays there are also packaging in which air with extra oxygen is added. The advantage of this is that the color of the meat remains better and spoilage is still prevented. Although vacuum and gas packaging increase the shelf life, they should still be kept in the refrigerator. After all, decay is always lurking.

“Weck” meat or cover with fat

In the past, meat was often ‘cooked’ to serve as winter stock. After roasting, the meat was then packed in glass (preserving) jars, which – after they had been closed – were heated again in a water bath. The ‘cooked meat’ was then placed in a cool, deep cellar, where the temperature remained below 10ºC. Even now, this method is sometimes used to take meat with you as a holiday stock. However, for such purposes ‘wecken’ is absolutely unsuitable. Despite the ‘preserving’, there is a possibility that at higher outside temperatures certain bacteria will remain active and spoil the meat. One of those harmful bacteria is the botulinum bacterium, which can cause botulism. Therefore, do not take ‘cooked’ meat with you during your holiday. In the meat products industry, botulism is prevented by very careful handling and heating and by using nitrite. The method of storage under fat is also not reliable. It is a myth that meat lasts longer. In other words, it is best to store meat and meat products in the refrigerator. Even when it’s already prepared. That’s really the safest.

Meat, meat products and holidays

Meat and meat products can usually be stored at home under optimal conditions. After all, everything is available at home: good quality meat, a good butcher and a refrigerator. During the holiday, and certainly in a tent or caravan in a sunny country, it is all a bit more difficult. Therefore, here are some tips if you bring meat from the Netherlands during your holiday:

  • Meat that has been expertly canned and sterilized can be taken on holiday. You can read on the label whether the packaging is sterilized.
  • Make sure that the cans are not damaged. This can cause leakage and then the meat can no longer be kept.
  • Canned meat usually has a long shelf life if it is kept in a cool place. Therefore, keep the cans out of the sun as much as possible.
  • Meat and meat products, which are not packaged by the industry in cans or glass, only keep well in the refrigerator. Therefore, never bring your own, vacuum or gas-packed meat and meat products with you. They will always arrive at your holiday destination spoiled.
  • If you go to warm areas (southern countries), the temperature in the car, caravan or tent or other storage area can easily rise above 50ºC. Under these circumstances, use can only be made of food specially canned for the tropics. This must be indicated on the packaging.

Buying meat abroad

Fresh meat and cold cuts are easily perishable if they are not kept refrigerated. This already applies in our rainy country, but even more so in warmer countries. Therefore, pay attention to the following things if you are going to buy meat or meat products during your holiday abroad:

  • Purchase the meat from a butcher with a cool, clean store where the meat is stored in refrigerated display cases or cabinets.
  • Buy meat and cold cuts as late as possible and use them as soon as possible.
  • Do not purchase more than is necessary for immediate use. What is bought in the morning may be spoiled in the afternoon.
  • In a good cool box, meat and cold cuts can only be stored for a few hours. The temperature in a cool box is significantly less low than in a fridge. Without cooling elements, a cool box does not extend the storage time in any way.
  • If a refrigerator is available at your holiday address, make sure that it is cold enough. Due to the high outside temperature, the temperature in the refrigerator can quickly rise.
  • Always heat meat thoroughly so that it is fully cooked. Bacteria don’t get a chance to survive this way.

It is wise not to keep leftovers, however tempting that may be. After all, with spoiled food you also spoil your holiday fun.

Storage table

Refrigerator Freezer

1 – 2 days

6 months

Pork, veal

1 – 2 days

3 months


1 – 2 days

3 months

Minced meat

1 day

2 months

cooked meat

3 – 4 days

2 – 3 months

Freshly sliced meats

2 – 4 days

1 – 3 months

Sliced dry sausages

4 – 7 days

1 month