Food Safety Issues/Food Storage
QUESTION: Hello Carol,
I have homemade tomato sauce with ground beef and sausage stored in sterilized mason jars in my fridge for 2 weeks; ARE THEY SAFE?
ANSWER: Hi Frank,
From your description it sounds like you are just storing your meat-based sauce in unprocessed but sterilized jars. If this is true then no, your sauce is not safe to consume. Any potentially hazardous food -- a food capable of supporting the growth of harmful bacteria such as cooked vegetables and meat -- can be safely stored in the refrigerator a maximum of 7 days. Even if you did process the jars and for some reason they did not seal and you then placed them in the refrigerator, the same recommendation would hold true.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank You Carol,
Your answer was to the point and helpful. I just wanted to add one more fact; that is, the jars were vacuum sealed with the Foodsaver system, and the seals are still "concave" on the jar. Does that qualify for safety?
I truly appreciate your timely reply.
Thank you for the additional information. Unfortunately, just getting a seal does not make a product that should be used within 7 days safe for long term storage in the refrigerator. While removing air does increase the chances that bacteria will not grow since most bacteria require oxygen for survival. However, one very leathal bacteria - Clostridium botulinium - only grows in the absence of air. That is why for long-term storage, food must be processed by heat to a temperature and length of time that assures destruction of all bacteria associated with that food. Since vegetables and meat can easily support the growth of botulism, it is imperative that foods be processed in a pressure canner which assures the destruction of the botulism spore.
So your meat sauce is still not considered safe after 14 days of refrigeration. In the future you could freeze the sauce for long-term storage or pressure process it using a pressure canner.