How To Tell If Meat Is Bad Or Spoiled

What’s that smell coming from your refrigerator? Is it rotten eggs? Nope, that’s not it. Is it some week old chinese food? Nope, not that either. Oh, there it is! It’s a pound of beef that you had taken out a few days ago to thaw and never got around to cooking. It happens to the best of us. We get so busy with our day and before we know it, we’re eating cereal rather than a nice meatloaf or spaghetti dinner, leaving that thawing beef to die…again. Here are a few simple ways to tell if your meat is bad or spoiled.

Look At The Color

One of the most telltale indications of spoiled meat is the color of it. It doesn’t even need to be past the expiration date for it to change colors. In perfect conditions, poultry meat is going to be bluish-white to yellow, pork is a pink-grayish color and raw minced beef is going to be purply-red. Remember, minced meat isn’t naturally bright red. The coloring is due to the exposition to air. Just because it has turned brown, does not necessarily mean it has gone bad. Keep in mind the natural colors of these meats. If they are any other color than what is specified above, they’re probably spoiled.

What’s That Smell?

Yes, the smell of the meat is a huge indicator of spoiling. This is also the easiest way to figure out if your meat is edible or not. Poultry meat is going to have a rather putrid smell to it. You should never eat it if it’s spoiled, no matter how tolerant your stomach is. Minced meat is going to have a putrid smell as well and might even smell a little sweet. Not only does the smell give it away, but the meat will also have a slimy texture to it, which is a good sign that bacteria has started to take over. If you see anything strange on the meat along with a nasty smell, do not eat it.

Check The Date

When you go to buy your meat, check the expiration date. This is something that you should watch closely. Usually, there will be a “use or freeze by” on the sticker.  Generally, uncooked meat is good for 4 months when it’s frozen. If it’s already cooked and then frozen, it should be tossed out after 3 months. If you see that the meat is already expired in the store, don’t buy it, no matter how good the deal on the price may seem. The price your stomach is going to pay later on could be far more than what it’s worth.


Spoiled meat is a pain to deal with, especially if you have no idea it’s going bad to begin with. You can put something in your fridge and 2 days later it smells like something died in it. The best thing to do is follow all of the precautions above and don’t let the meat sit in the refrigerator for more than a day or 2. If you aren’t sure when you’re going to use the meat, simply put it in the freezer before the expiration date and you’ll have good meat for at least a few months.

Check our database for the expiration dates of common meats.

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