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This post was originally published in March 2017. It has been updated with new information and republished. Enjoy!

Several years ago I purchased some raw dog food from a fellow raw feeder.  I made one big mistake – I didn't ask the age of the food, and a few of the chubs (rolls of food packaged in a tube-shaped container) were two years old!

I've never kept food for more than a year.  I have four big dogs, so it's easy to go through food quickly at our house.  I was a little concerned about food that was approaching the 2-year mark and began to wonder how long raw dog food will stay good in the freezer.

How Long Raw Dog Food Lasts in the Freezer

If you search online, you'll find a variety of websites that have the answer to this question, and they all seem to look to the FDA for the answer.

 FoodSafety.govFDAUSDA
GROUND MEAT   
Fridge1-2 Days1-2 Days 
Freezer3-4 Months3-4 Months 3-4 Months
STEAKS   
Fridge3-5 Days3-5 Days 
Freezer6-12 Months6-12 Months4-12 Months
CHOPS   
Fridge3-5 Days3-5 Days 
Freezer4-6 Months4-6 Months 4-12 Months
ROAST   
Fridge3-5 Days  
Freezer4-12 Months 4-12 Months
POULTRY   
Fridge1-2 Days1-2 Days 
Freezer9 months (pieces) –
1 year (whole)
9 months (pieces) –
1 year (whole)
9 months (pieces) –
1 year (whole)
OFFAL   
Fridge 1-2 Days 
Freezer 3-4 Months3-4 Months
WILD GAME   
Freezer  8-12 Months

Source:

Raw Brands Know the Life of Their Food

Now I understand where I got my “one-year” guidelines from and if that's the case, then half the food I purchased from another raw feeder has gone bad.  Dammit!

Not willing to toss the food away just yet, I decided to contact the brand to ask them how long their food lasts in the freezer.  The email I received was music to my ears – the raw dog food will be okay to feed for two years following the manufacturing date stamped on the package.  This means that the food I have is good to feed and I reorganized my freezer to allow me to use the oldest food first.

A Raw Feeder's Freezer Filled with Raw Dog Food

What's in My Freezer?

I'm lucky because none of my dogs have several protein sensitivities and I live in an area of the country where I have access to a lot of variety, so it's been easy (knock on wood) to fill our freezers (we have two for the dogs plus a dedicated fridge) with food. This is what I usually order for my dogs:

WHITE MEAT

  • duck
  • quail
  • mackerel/sardines

RED MEAT

  • pork (no, it's NOT the other white meat)
  • venison
  • rabbit
  • lamb

COMMERCIAL RAW

  • Answers Pet Food (chicken, turkey, pork)
  • Wild Coast Raw (beef, rabbit)
  • Northwest Naturals (white fish/salmon blend)

Are Freezer Dumps Safe for Raw Fed Dogs?

When I first started DIY raw feeding, I started seeing posts on Facebook about “freezer dumps,” which means that someone on Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace had a freezer full of old meat (if you're lucky, there will be two freezers) that they didn't want to throw away.

What a score, right?

I would LOVE to take someone's freezer full of meat. But is it safe? Is the meat still good?

I've learned over the years that the nutrients in meat begin to degrade after a few months in the freezer, but meat never reaches a point where it's worthless unless it's spoiled. So I wouldn't turn away someone's old meat. I have friends who raise their own meat and some years they end up with more meat than their freezer can hold and that's when my dogs score BIG!!! This is grass fed, grass finished beef and pork (mainly) and something I'm not going to turn way.

The meat that I get is usually only a year old, so it's still good for the dogs.

I use the old meat to make jerky treats and if I use bones (or meaty bones) for bone broth.

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