How Do You Know If Ground Beef Is Bad? 5 Warning Signs to Look Out For

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Because there is so much you can do with ground beef, it never hurts to keep a little extra on hand in the kitchen for times when you simply want a fast supper. While you don’t want to stock up on ground beef, having a little extra on hand might help you save time and money.

So, how do you know whether you can still use that package of ground beef you bought a few days ago for a recipe?

How To Tell If Ground Beef Is Bad?

How To Tell If Ground Beef Is Bad? 5 Signs to Watch Out For

Check the sight, smell, and texture of ground beef to see whether it’s rotten. It has gone bad if there are strange growths and discolouration, an unpleasant odor, and a slimy or sticky feel. Ground beef should also be thrown if it has beyond its expiration date and has not been properly preserved.

5 Ways to Tell That Ground Beef Is Bad

So you overbought ground beef or have leftovers from a meal you cooked a few days ago.

How do you know whether you’ll be able to utilize it for supper tonight? We’ll show you five simple methods to tell.

1. Looks Matter

We’ve all heard that aesthetics don’t matter, but in the case of ground beef, they do. Not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for safety.

If your ground beef has gone bad, you may see weird fuzzy growths or discolouration, as well as worms. If you see any of these, throw it away immediately away!

Ground beef will also undergo natural color variations throughout the course of its life. Because of a pigment-rich protein called myoglobin, fresh ground beef will be pinkish or reddish in hue.

Myoglobin is an iron-containing protein that contributes to the reddish, pinkish hue of raw meat. It is in charge of providing oxygen to the animal’s muscles in the same manner as hemoglobin oxygenates the blood cells. The more myoglobin there is in the flesh, the deeper the red color.

Ground beef has an oxygenated red hue when it is new, and the longer it is exposed to air, the more it oxidizes and goes brown, finally becoming gray.

If your ground beef has brown spots, it is not necessarily bad at this stage, but it is obviously out of date. If there are no other symptoms of spoiling, it is better to utilize it right away since it will not survive long at this point.

If your ground beef has become gray, it is beyond its prime and should be destroyed right away.

2. Take A Whiff

If your ground beef has gone bad, one of the first things you may notice is the odor. Meat that has rotted has a very strong nasty and off-putting odor that is difficult to ignore. It might smell like ammonia or rotting eggs, or it could smell like something has died.

Your meat should only have the scent of flesh, or none at all. Any strange or strong stench indicates that your ground beef has gone bad.

3. Feel The Texture

Fresh ground beef should be firm to the touch and should break apart or fall apart when pressed.If your ground beef is sticky or slimy, or if it is covered in a filmy material, it has gone bad and should be discarded immediately once.

4. Look at The Expiration Date

The package of ground beef will usually have an expiry or use-by date. This is handy for perishable commodities such as meat since it removes a lot of the guesswork from determining how long your ground beef is good for.

Even if your meat looks, smells, and feels OK, but it is beyond its use-by date, I would not advocate eating it since we don’t know when it was packed or what happened to it before it was sold to you at the store.

Aside from that, we have no means of knowing whether or not the meat is infected since germs and pathogens are invisible and cannot be seen. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food poisoning.

5. Take Note of How It Was Stored

Finally, while assessing if your ground beef is safe to eat, consider how it was kept. The USDA recommends that ground beef be stored in the refrigerator for no more than 1-2 days. It will survive much longer in the freezer, but the quality will decline the longer it is frozen, so eat it within 3-4 months.

Never keep ground beef out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, since temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit are excellent for germs to flourish and propagate.This is known as the food risk zone.

It is not a good idea to ingest ground beef that has been left out for more than two hours outdoors since it might be harboring bacteria that is damaging to your health.

So there you have it: five practical methods for determining whether or not your ground beef is safe to consume. If you evaluated all five symptoms and are still uncertain, I would suggest throwing it away rather than risking becoming sick.

My Ground Beef Is Brown On The Outside and Pink On The Inside?

It is possible that your ground beef got brown on the outside but stayed pink on the inside. Browning does not always indicate that you have poor ground beef. If there are no other indicators of food degradation, the oxidation of the meat is most likely the cause.

Myoglobin and Oxygen

As previously stated, myoglobin is responsible for the reddish, pinkish hue of beef. Iron is present in this protein, and it bonds to oxygen molecules.This, in turn, influences the color of the meat.


In the absence of oxygen, such as in vacuum-packed meats or meats freshly cut at the butcher shop, myoglobin becomes purple-red and is known as deoxymyoglobin.

Bright Red

When the meat is exposed to oxygen, the iron in the myoglobin interacts with the oxygen and turns into a new substance known as oxymyoglobin.

At this point, the flesh has become a vivid cherry red, which is the color we associate with fresh meat.

This is called as blooming, and it is commonly done with cuts such as steak.

Tan or Brown

Browning may occur in containers with limited air, such as when meat portions are piled on top of each other.

Browning occurs when the iron in myoglobin loses its capacity to bond with oxygen after extended contact to oxygen, causing the flesh to become brown. Metmyoglobin is the name given to myoglobin in this form. To visualize this process, consider the rusting process. Meat rusts when it becomes oxidized.

Brown meat is not inherently terrible at this stage, although it is less fresh than reddish or pinkish meat.

If the exterior of your meat is brown but the interior is pink, the outside has most likely been exposed and oxidized more than the inside, explaining the color discrepancy.

It is safe to consume if there are no other symptoms of spoilage.

What Happens If I Still Eat The Bad Ground Beef?

If you continue to consume tainted ground beef, you are at risk of contracting a foodborne disease. The severity of the poisoning is determined by your health state as well as the quantity and kind of toxin consumed.

Some episodes of food poisoning or food-borne sickness recover within a few hours, while others last for days or weeks.Some may need hospitalization, while others may progress to a life-threatening condition.

If you ask me, it’s just not worth the time, pain, and chance of eating something that won’t taste very good anyhow.

Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal and Muscle Pain
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Fever

Toxins generated by bacteria and pathogens in rotten meat may sometimes have long-term health consequences. These cannot be removed by cooking, thus it is not a smart idea to put your health at risk by eating substandard ground beef.

How Long Can I Hold On To My Ground Beef?

If you put your ground beef in the fridge, you may keep it for one to two days at most. The duration span in the freezer is up to 4 months. Always keep them apart from other items in your fridge and freezer, particularly fruits and vegetables, cheese and salads, and anything that isn’t generally prepared further.

Make sure it’s also stored in sealed, freezer-safe raw meat containers. We do this to prevent cross-contamination and keep you and your other food safe to consume.

While ground beef will keep in the freezer for a long time, maybe indefinitely, it will not always be of the highest quality. It will begin to decay and lose moisture with time, therefore it is best to eat them within 3-4 months.

Cooking ground beef may increase its shelf life in the refrigerator by up to four days. It may also be frozen for later use, however it is best if used within 3-4 months.

Storing your ground beef correctly will guarantee that it retains as much moisture, quality, and taste as possible for as long as possible, allowing you to enjoy it as you would fresh ground beef.

Frequently Asked Questions to How To Tell If Ground Beef Is Bad

How to Tell if Ground Beef Is Bad By Its Smell?

Fresh ground beef should smell like nothing else but meat. Ground beef that has gone bad has a distinct putrid stench, similar to rotten eggs or ammonia.

Is Raw Ground Beef in the Fridge for 7 Days Still Good?

Raw ground beef that has been lying in the fridge for 7 days is no longer safe to eat since it can only be securely stored for 2 days before spoilage-causing bacteria takes over. It is unsafe to ingest anything that has been lying in your fridge for more than 24 hours, even if there are no evident symptoms of spoiling.

How Long Is Uncooked Ground Beef Good In the Fridge?

Uncooked ground beef may only be stored in the refrigerator for approximately two days.

Conclusion to How To Tell If Ground Beef is Bad

Checking how the box of ground beef looks, smells, and feels is a simple way to know whether it should be discarded. Discoloration, fuzzy growths, mildew, and worms are all signs that the meat has gone bad, as is a nasty stench reminiscent of rotten eggs or ammonia, as well as a slimy and sticky texture.

Ground beef that has beyond its expiry date, as well as ground beef that has not been properly kept and managed, has most certainly gone bad and is unsafe to ingest.

If you are doubtful, err on the side of caution rather than risking food poisoning.


What are the symptoms from bad ground beef?

Diarrhea is the most frequent symptom of food poisoning.
Cramps or stomach ache.

What does raw ground beef look like when it goes bad?

The exterior of raw ground beef should be brilliant red and the interior should be brownish. If the surface has gotten completely brown or gray, or if mold has developed on it, it has gone rotten and should be destroyed.

What happens if you cook bad ground beef?

You should take every measure to avoid eating rotten ground beef. It is very harmful since it may contain pathogenic germs, which cause foodborne diseases. As a result, you may have symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.

What does spoiled ground beef smell like?

or unpleasant, so you should be careful of any unusual odors. Rotten flesh may sometimes smell pleasant.Fresh ground beef usually smells like iron. If the meat has been poor for a time, it will most likely have a distinct decaying odor. The majority of rotten meat smells nasty and

How long after eating bad ground beef do you get sick?

Salmonella. Salmonella germs are often found in uncooked or raw meat, raw eggs, milk, and other dairy products. In most cases, the incubation period lasts between 12 and 72 hours. Symptoms often last four to seven days.

What are the signs of spoilage in beef?

Rotten meat will be discolored, with a greenish or brownish hue. You may also look for slime on the steak’s surface. If it has a slimy feel, it is most certainly nasty. A bad odor is another clue that the meat has gone bad.

Can you taste if ground beef is bad?

Bacteria that may impact ground beef include spoilage bacteria and dangerous bacteria. Spoilage bacteria are not normally hazardous, although they do reduce the quality of food. This might result in unpleasant scents or tastes.

Is it OK to cook GREY ground beef?

You can guarantee that if just the inside is gray, oxygen hasn’t contacted it to color it red. This signifies that gray-colored ground beef is safe to consume. Meat that appears gray or brown all over (on the inside as well as the outside) has certainly started to rot and is unsafe to consume.

Is raw ground beef good after 5 days?

To keep bacterial levels low, store ground beef at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) or below and consume within 2 days, or freeze. Cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C) to kill dangerous microorganisms.

Can spoiled beef be cooked?

Oven Via adds that although heating damaged meat will destroy germs, mildew, and other types of bacteria, it is still unsafe to consume since it does not remove hazardous toxins.

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