How Long Does Cooked Ground Turkey Last in the Fridge?

by Charlie
Raw ground turkey meat

If you have recently made some cooked ground turkey, you might be wondering how long you can keep it for if you put it straight into the fridge. It’s important to be cautious about food safety when it comes to meat, and not keeping meat for longer than you should is key.

How long does cooked ground turkey last in the fridge? Cooked ground turkey should last for around three days in the fridge. It may sometimes be okay after four days if it was cooked very fresh, but in general, you should aim to use it up before that stage. After four days, you should discard any turkey remaining in your fridge, or you risk getting food poisoning from it.

Can You Keep Ground Turkey in the Fridge?

Yes, ground turkey should be kept in the fridge, or in the freezer. In the fridge, it should last for three days, but if it gets left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours, it needs to be thrown away, not eaten. At room temperature, bacteria will multiply quickly, making it unsafe to eat.

If you’ve got cooked ground turkey, always make sure you put it straight in the fridge when you have finished with it. It is important to keep it in an airtight container if possible, as this will reduce the airflow and the bacteria.

Don’t keep turkey beyond day four, even if you plan to cook it into something. A secondary cooking process will not reliably kill the bacteria, so you can’t depend on this making it safe to eat.

Can You Reheat Cooked Ground Turkey?

Yes, you can reheat cooked ground turkey once. After that, you will need to throw away any leftovers, as they can’t be reheated again. It’s a good idea to only heat up what you need, and no more. This will help you to reduce wastage.

If you know you aren’t going to use all of the turkey up in one go, it’s best to either refrigerate or freeze it in small portions so that you can just heat up what you need each time you want some. Heating, cooling, and reheating food repeatedly is dangerous and leads to food borne illnesses.

What’s Dangerous about Eating Old Ground Turkey?

Like any meat, cooked ground turkey that has gone off can contain a variety of toxins and bacteria, and these will make you sick if you eat them. Food poisoning from meat that hasn’t been handled or stored properly is surprisingly common.

You might notice the effects as soon as four hours after eating off turkey, or it could take up to 48 hours to make a difference.

How Do You Know If Cooked Ground Turkey Has Gone Bad?

The best way to reduce your risk of food poisoning from meat is to follow the food safety guidelines, rather than judging it by your senses. If turkey has been in the fridge for more than four days, it isn’t safe to eat anymore, no matter what it looks like. However, you should also be wary of turkey that looks odd or smells strange.

Cooked ground turkey should be light brown, with no odd white or blue or green flecks on it. It should be reasonably firm to the touch, and not remotely sticky or slimy or squashy. If you notice anything odd about the appearance or texture of the turkey, it is best to throw it away.

Similarly, a sour smell should warn you away from eating the turkey. Turkey mince has very little scent, even when cooked, and if it smells strong or unpleasant, it is not safe to eat anymore. The smell is a sign that it is starting to rot, and it will make you sick, even if you heat it up well.

Although you shouldn’t determine that the turkey is safe to eat just because it looks okay, you can determine that it isn’t safe to eat when it no longer looks okay. Even if you think it has been stored properly and it should be fine, throw away any turkey that looks, feels, or smells strange.

Equally, if you start eating a meal with cooked ground turkey in it and you notice that it tastes odd, you should throw the meal away. This might feel wasteful, but it is better than getting food poisoning, which can have some really nasty symptoms.

You should be even more cautious if you are pregnant or immunocompromised in some way, because food poisoning is especially dangerous to people in these categories.

What Happens If You Leave Ground Turkey on the Counter?

Almost everyone has accidentally left a container of meat out for longer than they meant to at points. Unfortunately, meat left at room temperature will very quickly go bad. After about two hours, the meat will have been so exposed to bacteria that it is no longer safe to eat it, and you will have to throw it away.

At temperatures above 40 degrees F, bacteria in the meat will multiply very quickly, and it doesn’t take long for the meat to become unsafe for consumption. In hot countries, this process will be even quicker, and you should not leave meat out for more than an hour. At over 90 degrees F, it will last for less than 60 minutes.

If you have left a packet of cooked ground turkey on the side for ten minutes or so while distracted by something else, it is absolutely fine to seal it up and put it back in the fridge. This sort of temperature exposure should make minimal difference.

However, if it has been out for over an hour, you will need to refrigerate it and then use it up fast, or just throw it away – even if the weather is cool.

Final Thoughts

Cooked ground turkey should last for about three days when stored properly in the fridge. Remember, you need to keep it in an airtight container and not leave it out on the counter for longer than necessary at any point, or you are inviting food borne bacteria to spread throughout the meat.

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