How Long do Cold Cuts Last – (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 hours

Cold cuts shelf life depends on various factors such as packaging and storage, among other vital aspects. Since meat consumption is growing as the World’s population increases, knowing how to store as well as the shelf life of meat products is essential.

In that case, we shall discuss how long do cold cuts last and why in today’s article.

How long do cold cuts last?

Method of StorageShelf Life
Room temperature2 hours
Refrigerated2 weeks
Frozen8 months

As previously mentioned, the time taken for a cold cut to become rancid varies depending on various aspects. Depending on the meet used, cold cuts can last from five days to approximately four weeks.

When refrigerated and not vacuum sealed, cold cuts tend to have a short life span of roughly 5 to 6 days. Some prepackaged cold cuts such as Bologna can last for approximately one to two weeks when refrigerated.

After this period, it will produce an unpleasant smell, which will indicate it is no longer safe for consumption. For hard salami as well as pepperoni, they can last for approximately two to four weeks when refrigerated.

When persevered in the freezer, cold cuts tend to last for approximately eight months. Usually, an odor test is the best way to assess if the meat is safe for consumption.

If the meat has a rancid smell or produces an unusual smell, it is considered not be safe for use. Meat smells sour when rotten, just like spoiled milk. When left open at room temperature, cold cuts tend to go rancid quickly. After two hours, it is said not to be safe for consumption.

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Why do scold cuts have a short life span?

The shelf life of a cold cut highly depends on the method of storage used. When left at room temperature, cold cuts tend to go rancid quickly due to high temperature, which favors the growth microbes.

However, when refrigerated, its shelf life is extended significantly due to reduced moisture content, temperature, and air, making it hard for bacteria to develop on the food.

When stored in a freezer, the shelf life of the cold cut is extended significantly to approximately eight months from two hours when at room temperature.

How to tell a spoilt cold cut

There are various ways you can use to assess whether a cold cut is suitable for consumption such as;

  • Unpleasant odor: As previously stated, carrying out a smell test is the best way to tell if a cold cut has gone bad. There is always a bad smell produced when a cold cut becomes rancid.
  • Best before date: You might consider checking on the expiry date to see if the cold cut is perfect for consumption. It is advisable not to consume cold cut when the expiry date has passed.
  • Slime: Check the presence of slim; in case it is available, getting rid of the meat will be the best action you should consider taking.


You should note that meat and meat products are highly perishable; therefore, proper storage is highly recommended. Furthermore, once you open the cold cuts from the packaging, it is advisable to consume it within three to five days.

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