Still Tasty



Blue Arrow Blue Arrow 1 week after "use by" date on package
Freezer Freezer
Blue Arrow Blue Arrow 1-2 months
  • How long does an unopened package of chicken deli meat last in the fridge or freezer? The exact answer to that question depends to a large extent on storage conditions — keep packaged chicken deli meat (also known as lunch meat, luncheon meat or cold cuts) refrigerated at all times.
  • How long does an unopened package of chicken deli meat last after the “sell-by date” or “best before date” on the package? After chicken deli meat is purchased, it may be kept refrigerated for about 1 week after the “sell by” or “best before” date on the package if it has been properly stored.
  • Unopened chicken deli meat may be kept in its original store packaging when refrigerating; to maximize the shelf life of chicken deli meat, do not open the package until ready to use.
  • How long can an unopened package of chicken deli meat be left at room temperature? Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F; chicken deli meat should be discarded if left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
  • To further extend the shelf life of packaged chicken deli meat, freeze; when freezing, place chicken deli meat in the freezer before the number of days shown for refrigerator storage has elapsed.
  • You can maximize the shelf life of unopened chicken deli meat in the freezer by overwrapping the original store packaging with airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper or place the package inside a heavy-duty freezer bag in order to prevent freezer burn.
  • How long does pre-packaged chicken deli meat last in the freezer? Properly stored, it will maintain best quality for about 1 to 2 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only — chicken deli meat that has been kept constantly frozen at 0° F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How long does packaged chicken deli meat last after being frozen and thawed? Chicken deli meat that has been defrosted in the fridge can be kept for an additional 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator before using; chicken deli meat that was thawed in the microwave or in cold water should be used immediately.
  • How to tell if packaged chicken deli meat is bad? The best way is to smell and look at the chicken deli meat: signs of bad chicken deli meat are a sour smell, dull color and slimy texture; discard any chicken deli meat with an off smell or appearance.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please click here.