How To Know Ground Beef Is Bad

What will bad ground beef smell like?

Spoiled ground beef will have a pungent, putrid smell. When ground beef is safe to consume, it usually smells faint or nonexistent.

How to tell if your ground beef’s gone bad

Ground beef has a unique place in the vast universe of food options.

Basically, because we eat a lot of it. In fact, data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that in 2020, the world ate more than 130 billion pounds of beef. In the United States, ground beef makes up more than half of the beef consumed in the country. In 2017, for instance, Americans ate, on average, a whopping 54.5 pounds of ground beef in dishes like burgers, tacos, meatballs, chili and other tasty meals.

However, its very nature also poses significant health risks. Grinding up beef increases its surface area, which gives microorganisms more places to hide. Therefore, ground beef has a shorter shelf life than steak or other larger cuts of meat.

“Ground beef is a particular concern,” notes Dr. Craggs-Dino, “because it doesn’t always show signs of spoiling like other products do.” You’re probably going to say to yourself, “Oh, I’m not eating that,” if you see fuzzy mold growing on something. ’ But ground beef can be a little trickier. It may not even be apparent that it’s beginning to go bad. ”.

Two types of microorganisms can take up residency in ground beef. The first kind, spoilage bacteria, can cause the meat to lose quality and develop a bad odor and taste, but they generally aren’t harmful to eat. Pathogenic bacteria, on the other hand, can’t be seen or smelled, but they are dangerous and can lead to food poisoning.

If spoilage bacteria are present, their pathogenic friends are probably right behind them, adding to the complexity of the situation. Therefore, spoilage bacteria indicate the presence of bad actors like E. coli even though they won’t make you sick. coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter are there as well.

Luckily, there are often signs that spoilage has occurred. When inspecting a package of ground meat, bear the following in mind:

“Outside, ground beef should look nice and pink,” says Dr. Craggs-Dino. The interior may occasionally appear a little brown, but that’s also acceptable. But, you can tell something is a little off if it’s beginning to turn a funky gray on the inside or outside. Your food could already be spoiled by that point. ”.

“There’s a problem if the meat feels or looks slimy when you open the package,” says Dr. Craggs-Dino. “Fresh ground beef ought to be crumbly and a little firm to the touch.” But it’s not so good if it appears wet and sticky. I know it sounds kind of gross. But ideally someone would notice that and become suspicious. ”.

The smell of fresh ground beef is barely noticeable. But if the meat has gone bad, that’s a different story, according to Dr. Craggs-Dino. “You open the package and it just doesn’t smell right. Meat that smells rancid, tangy, or simply putrid is likely spoiled. ”.

Another crucial indicator of the safety of your meat is the expiration date that is printed on the label. The expiration date, also known as the “best before” date, indicates when food is most likely to go bad. The guidance here is simple. “Don’t eat food past the expiration date,” advises Dr. Craggs-Dino. “Freeze it if you won’t be able to use it by that date.” You can store your ground beef in the freezer for up to four months. ”.

She also warns against confusing the sell-by date with the expiration date. The retailer uses the sell-by date as a guide, noting, ‘Look, we can keep this meat on the shelf until this day.’ You can still consume ground beef for two days after the sell-by date if you purchase it, bring it home, and immediately refrigerate it. However, if you proceed beyond that, you run the risk of hurting yourself. ”.

Why Does Ground Beef Spoil?

Unfortunately, all meat will eventually go bad. Nevertheless, it helps to be fully informed when examining your beef and even when attempting to extend its shelf life. In general, meat is prone to a wide range of bacteria, particularly pathogenic and spoilage types.

Your meat won’t become smelly or change color in any discernible way if it’s pathogenic. However, it will certainly still cause illness. As this is going on, spoilage bacteria will have noticeable consequences on your ground beef, which we’ll go over in more detail in this article.

It’s crucial to consider both of these bacteria when examining your ground beef. You will become ill from both, but only one will exhibit symptoms.

If your beef has gone bad, you might discover this before you even open the refrigerator. A spoiled beef will start to smell like sulfur or ammonia. In short, it won’t smell good.

If ground beef has been stored in an airtight container, it may occasionally develop a slight odor. This is normal. However, if you smell something and instantly start to make faces, that’s just your body’s natural response to something you shouldn’t eat.

Healthy ground beef will be pink with strips of white fat running through it. Oxidation — AKA overexposure to oxygen — will lead to a bit of grayness, which isn’t necessarily the end of the road.

However, it’s time to discard the entire package if your meat has completely turned gray, has dark gray patches, or has even mildly developed mold. Refrain from removing the visible mold in order to save the remaining ground beef. It’s possible that more mold is developing below the surface.

It’s safe to assume that your ground beef has gone bad and needs to be thrown out if it smells funny and doesn’t look good. However, you can always examine the texture of the meat if you require additional assurance.

When your finger is pressed into healthy ground beef, it should make an indent and be smooth. If the meat is bad, it will feel moist and slimy on the surface.

Particularly with raw beef, there shouldn’t be any moisture on the ground beef.

As previously mentioned, some bacteria don’t exhibit any obvious symptoms of spoiling. It wont smell, look, or feel different. However, you can always check the amount of time the beef has been stored again and use that figure to make your final decision.

Since raw beef is freshly packaged, it should be eaten within three days of being placed in the refrigerator. Whether you purchase your ground beef from a reputable local farm, butcher, or grocery store, always double-check the packaging and expiration dates.