When it comes to cured meat, there is the impression that it can sit in the fridge longer than other meats.
However, there are several different types of bacon, and the curing or preservative process differs.
Most of the bacon that we get in the United States is processed in a way that is not designed for refrigerated bacon.
Like with any meat, if you leave bacon out for too long you run the risk of food-borne illnesses. So just how long is too long?
How Long Can Bacon Be Out of the Fridge?
When it comes to both cooked and uncooked bacon, the general rule is that it should not be unrefrigerated for more than two hours. Any longer and the risk of food-borne illnesses significantly increases. Two hours is the standard time that bacon will reach room temperature, and thus, unsafe to eat. It may be surprising, but this rule applies to most cooked portions of bacon as well.
Leaving Raw Bacon Out
It can happen to the best of us.
You forget about the frozen bacon that you’ve put out to thaw, or you get the bacon out too early and forget about it.
Sadly, the bacon that you purchase in the grocery store typically does not have a long shelf life if it goes unrefrigerated.
When it comes to raw bacon, you should toss it if it has been left out for over two hours.
If you do not, you run the risk of food-borne illnesses such as trichinosis. Trichinosis is an illness that is related to undercooked or spoiled pork and causes vomiting, fatigue, abdominal pain, and fever.
If you’re asking if you’ve left the bacon out too long, I find that it’s best just to toss it.
If you want to be extra careful and have a meat thermometer, you can test the temperature of your bacon.
The potential of bacteria growth begins at around 40°
This also applies to bacon alternatives, such as turkey bacon or Canadian bacon as well.
While generally, the idea is that cooked meats can be left out longer, this is a slight exaggeration.
While you are at less risk of getting a food-borne illness from cooked bacon, the danger still exists.
If you are cooking it at home, you should still adhere to the two-hour rule.
There are, however, a few acceptions when it comes to cooked bacon.
Processed bacon that is designed to be ‘shelf stable’ comes from a processing plant where they regulate the water activity to be below 0.85.
This prevents the presence of pork-related food-borne illnesses.
There are a few different ways to cure bacon, and that determines how long it can be left out.
The bacon that you usually find in the grocery store is usually cured by a method referred to as ‘ pumping’.
This means that the ingredients necessary are injected directly into the bacon.
The bacon is then heated.
This process reduces the curing time significantly.
Dry-cured bacon can be left out for longer.
This process involves rubbing the cure mixture onto the meat and covering it, thus allowing the additives to process the bacon over a number of days.
If you are making your own dry-cured bacon, it remains unrefrigerated for up to two weeks to complete the process.
Unsliced bacon is bacon that has been dry-cured. Because of this process, it has a longer ‘shelf-life’.
You can leave unsliced bacon out of the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
However, once you slice it, it should be used within a few days.
It also may be surprising to learn how long you should keep bacon that is stored either in the refrigerator or the freezer.
A good rule of thumb is to use bacon that is being refrigerated within two weeks.
The USDA recommends that bacon that is close to the ‘Sell By’ date, should be eaten within seven days from purchase.
If you have frozen bacon, it can last for 5 to 6 months in the freezer. Bacon that is left in either the refrigerator or the freezer will still go bad over time.
The flavor texture and the possibility of spoilage are all affected.
If you are storing cooked bacon, it’s also advisable to write down the date at which you cooked it.
As a general rule, cooked bacon that has been stored in the refrigerator should be used within five days.
If you freeze cooked bacon then it can last around two months.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Can Bacon Be Out Of The Fridge?
Do I need to refrigerate my bacon bits?
Bacon bits undergo a different process than the bacon that you would typically purchase in the refrigerated section. Due to the additional additives that are used to cure the bacon bits, even once opened from their packaging, you can store it at room temperature in a cool dark place.
In Conclusion About How Long Can Bacon Be Out Of The Fridge
When it comes to leaving bacon out, you should generally adhere t the two-hour rule.
If you leave raw or uncooked bacon out for longer than two hours, bacteria growth begins and you’re putting yourself at risk for food-borne illnesses.
The only type of bacon that can be left out in the long term is bacon that has been cured properly and is unsliced.