Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Meat Storage
Name: Amy H.
Status: Student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: August 2002

I am interested in knowing the absolute BEST way to store meat in the fridge in order that the least amount of, and least dangerous kind of bacteria will grow. Basically, my questions are Wrapped vs. Unwrapped? And airtight vs. ventilated?

Dear Amy,

Your concerns to store meat correctly in the fridge are correct, but rather than worry about wrapped or airtight storage, there are two more important factors: temperature and time. Make sure your fridge is 5 to 7 degrees Centigrade in those compartments you use for meat. Check it with a thermometer if in doubt. Do not store uncooked meat for longer than 2 days (48 hr) at that temperature, and cooked meat for no longer than 4 days. These are no guarantee that the meat would still be ok, though I would not eat meat that has been stored longer than this. Check the meat before consumption: a slight decoloring is not problematic, it is due to oxidation of the hemoglobin in the meat. More telling is the smell. A faint sour smell is a bad sign, and would affect taste.

Do not put meat in the fridge warm or hot: leave it cool first. Finally, treat ALL uncooked meat with proper hygienic rules: wash hands before and after handling, wash utensils and cutting board before using them on other food stuff.

This way you have done all that is sensible to protect yourself.

Trudy Wassenaar

To prevent bacterial contamination it is best to wrap your meat, preferably airtight. This will prevent spread of bacteria throughout your refrigerator. However, the very best is to store meat in the freezer.

When preparing your meat make sure you remember to do this step separately, in its own area of the kitchen and with its own set of utensils. Wash your hands before and after preparing. And before moving on, bleach the area thoroughly.

Also, cook meat to well done. Raw or uncooked meat always has an increased risk of food poisoning.

Saundra Sample

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory