How to safely store meat and alternatives for children’s health?

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Most perishable foods need to be kept refrigerated to ensure their safety.  It is equally important to respect the “shelf life” of foods in order to avoid making children ill, since they are more susceptible than adults to food poisoning. Meat and alternatives should be considered particularly dangerous and their “best before” dates should be respected.

Because the immune system of children is still developing and is not yet mature, children are more prone than adults to food poisoning.  Parents should ensure the safe preparation and careful storage of food in order to prevent their children from becoming ill.

Rule number one: ensure that the refrigerator is set at 4oC (40oF) or less so as to control the growth of bacteria.

Meat, eggs, fish, poultry, seafood and sliced or prepackaged cold cuts and deli meats should be stored as follows:

  • 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator after opening the package
  • or until the expiry date on an unopened package

Ready-to-eat meals containing cooked meat should be kept as follows:

  • 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator
  • refrigerate in a shallow dish and avoid leaving at room temperature.

If these storage rules have not been respected, throw the food out. Consuming it will increase the risk of food poisoning for your child.

For more details on the shelf life of different foods, consult this website: Thermoguide – Fresh is better (French only).


Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments (ACIA). (2014). Durée de conservation sur l’étiquette des aliments préemballés.

Gouvernement du Canada. (2013). Guide sur la salubrité des aliments pour les enfants de cinq ans et moins.

Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ). (2012). Thermoguide – Frais c’est meilleur!

Partenariat canadien pour la salubrité des aliments. (2014). Tableau de conservation.



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