There’s nothing quite like the smell of breakfast sausage cooking in the morning as you enjoy your first cup of coffee and get ready to chow down and get your day off to a good start. But there is also not much that compares to food poisoning that results from eating spoiled sausage that has been kept too long. Avoiding this type of food borne illness can be done if you stick to some guidelines concerning when breakfast sausage spoils.
"Sell By" Dates
Although the “sell by” date on fresh meats like sausage is helpful when deciding which pack to buy in the store, the date doesn’t actually tell you anything official about how fresh the sausage is. “Sell by” dates are not government regulated, and are simply printed on labels by the producers as a favor to consumers. No matter what date is stamped on your package of sausage and how long you’ve had it, this date has no real bearing on when the sausage might spoil.
Refrigerating sausage or other meats is the best way to extend the shelf life of the food. Fresh sausage should always be put into refrigeration within an two hours of being off the shelf and one hour if it is above 90 degrees outside, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website. While refrigerated, the food should remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth. Even under refrigeration the meat should be cooked or discarded within one or two days.
Freezing is a way to keep your sausage safe to eat for much longer. Freezing ground meats at temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit will extend the life of the meat indefinitely. As long as the meat remains frozen it will remain safe to eat when cooked immediately after thawing. The USDA website recommends using ground meats, like sausage, within two months of freezing to maintain the best quality possible. Keeping meats frozen too long can lead to unusual flavors.
If you cooked too much breakfast sausage and you want to keep the cooked leftovers for another day, you can place it in the refrigerator to maintain its safety. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website, most leftovers are best when properly reheated to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit internally, and eaten within three or four days.