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How long is a pork shoulder good for after the sell by date? (Explained)

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Many average shoppers may believe that the “sell by” date listed on various items refers to the item’s expiration date.

That isn’t entirely correct. After all, there are so many different labels and warnings on food in grocery stores nowadays that it can be difficult to depict the various meanings.

So, instead of throwing away a pork shoulder because it’s past its sell by date, don’t!

This date does not indicate when it will expire, and it is still safe to eat. 

Pork can usually be kept for 1 to 2 days after the sell by date.

However, this is dependent on how it was packaged and the type of cut. Larger cuts, such as pork shoulder or loin roasts, may last 3 to 5 days after the sell by date if properly packaged.

After that, you’ll need to either cook or freeze the pork.

How Long Does Pork Shoulder Stay Good in A Fridge?

Depending on how fresh the pork is before cooking, it can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

This holds true regardless of the size or type of cut. Bacteria that grow in cool temperatures will begin to produce after 5 days, spoiling the meat and making it unsafe.

What Does the “Sell By” Date Mean?

In reality, the sell by date has nothing to do with the quality or safety of the meat.

This date simply informs store employees how long the meat can be sold on the shelves. It is only for store employees to use and is solely for better inventory calculations and purposes. 

So, a pork shoulder that is 5 days past its “sell by” date may still be perfectly safe to eat.

But, because the maximum cut off for this is 5 days, make sure you thoroughly inspect the meat before cooking.

Understanding Food Labels (“Sell By” vs. “Best By”)

There are numerous labels that depict various information and understanding these other labels will help you better understand sell by dating.

For example, you’ve probably seen “best by” labels on items and assumed they meant the same thing.

However, these labels are in charge of identifying the freshness of food products. This date, while representing the freshness and expected quality, has nothing to do with indicating food safety standards regarding spoiled food.

Then there’s the “use by” label, which, once again, does not represent the product’s expiration date. This date serves as a final reminder that it is the last day the pork will be at its peak freshness before its quality begins to deteriorate or spoil. 

Some meat products may have a “freeze by” date. Again, this has nothing to do with food safety; it simply indicates when the meat should be frozen in order to retain the maximum amount of quality when thawed.

Factors That Effect Freshness

Even though the sell by date has no bearing on when the pork spoils, it does indicate that it is nearing the end of its shelf life. There are several factors that can help extend the life of the pork past this date.

  • When storing pork in the fridge, place it as far back on the bottom shelf as possible. This keeps it nice and cool and separate from other food products.
  • Make sure the pork is tightly wrapped, squeezing out as much air as possible. The more air that becomes trapped with the pork, the faster it’s going go bad.
  • It is important to note that you should never buy pork from a store that has any tears or damage to the packaging. If you notice this after purchasing, re-wrap the pork shoulder, preferably with a vacuum seal.

How to Tell Pork Shoulder Has Spoiled

Whatever the case, you should always inspect pork if it has passed any of the above-mentioned label dates as a precaution.

Typically, the sight and smell test is all that is required to determine whether or not pork is bad. Fresh pork does not have a strong odour, whereas spoiled pork smells sour or sometimes like rotten eggs.

The colour and texture will also differ. It’s fine if the pork is moist, but if it’s slimy, it’s spoiled. If the colour of the meat has changed from a dark pink to a greyish/yellow hue, it is no longer edible.

Final Thoughts

If you have a pork shoulder that has recently passed its “sell by” date, it is most likely fine to eat. Keep in mind that this date has nothing to do with when the pork will spoil.

However, if the meat is past its expiration date, always inspect it first before cooking it. When it comes to food handling, it’s always best to be cautious.

“When in doubt, toss it out.”