How to Tell if Meat is Spoiled

How to Tell if Meat is Spoiled

It's something that most cooks have worried about at one time or another:  Is the meat still good? Many people aren't sure how to tell if meat is spoiled, or if it is fresh. This leads to a lot of waste...as well as more than a few cases of food poisoning, when the cook is incorrect. But how can you tell?

Ask yourself the following questions to determine the answer!

What Kind of Meat Is It?


The first thing to ask yourself is what kind of meat it is. Some meats naturally spoil faster than others. For example, fresh fish left out will begin to rot before a hunk of ground beef will. Poultry and raw ground beef generally last one or two days in the fridge. Tougher cuts, such as roasts, steaks, and chops, can last three to five days.

Where Was It Stored?


If you don't intend to use your meat right away, you should always store it in the freezer, not the fridge. However, if you meant to cook those pork chops that night, but decided on pizza instead, not to worry. All meats can be stored in the fridge for a time before they begin to go bad. But a freezer is always best.

How Long Was It Stored?


If you left your meat in the fridge, keeping an eye on how long it's been in there is key. As mentioned, pieces of poultry, as well as ground beef, generally only last one or two days in the refrigerator. Heartier cuts, like steaks, chops, and roasts, will last a maximum of five days in the fridge.

Look at Its Color


As meat spoils, its color will naturally change. For those who want to find out if the meat has gone bad, but are too squeamish to smell or touch it, this can be a great visual indicator that you shouldn't eat it. Look for the meat to take on a sickly gray, perhaps even bluish or greenish, tint.

Does the Texture Feel Odd?


This is for people who don't mind getting their hands dirty. As meat is spoiling, the texture will change. After washing your hands, give the meat a once-over, feeling around carefully. If it's ground beef or any other type of ground meat, give it a turn with your hands. If it feels sticky, rethink it.

Does It Smell Strange?


This is definitely the biggest indicator. All meat gives off a rank odor when it spoils, and humans are most definitely capable of smelling it! Normally, there is no real test needed; you can definitely smell if it's way over the hill. But, to be safe on cuts you're not quite sure about, get in close and give it a sniff.

Does It Taste Funny?


This is a worst-case scenario: The bad meat might have actually made it to your plate. But how do you tell if it's actually one bad, or if the cook just had an off night?

A lot of times, the pungent odor of rotten meat that, while not easily smelled in its early stages when raw, will become even worse after it's been cooked. You can also taste it. If the meat tastes sour, it's likely gone bad.

Knowing if the meat has spoiled is an important skill for everyone, cooks and eaters alike, to learn. If you want to avoid food poisoning and a ruined meal, this is an important step in that process.

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