Most shoppers will tell you, they love buying bargain meat at the grocery store. What’s not to love? There’s nothing better than getting some Porterhouse steaks for .69 a pound instead of $15. The only problem with bargain meat is most of the meats should have been removed from the shelves that day. By paying bargain prices, you stand a greater risk of buying bad meat.
Sure, it’s a rush buying meat at discount prices. Some people don’t care if the day they’re buying it is the last day the stores are allowed to keep it on their shelves.
Think about this. What’s more important, you’re health or getting a deep discount?
When it comes to buying, storing, and cooking meat, everyone should pay close attention to the sell-by dates and the look of the meat.
You had good intentions
You planned on cooking that beautiful pot roast you purchased yesterday on your way home from work. You had all intentions to cook it tonight for the evening meal, but life jumped in and you realized you forgot you had other plans for the night. Okay, no worries, you’ll just cook the roast tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes and goes. Before you know it, that beautiful roast has been taking up residence in your fridge for 5 days.
You look at it and it still looks good, with the exception of a few brown spots. No worries, that’s just the blood draining out. You open the package and it doesn’t smell gross, so you decide it’s still gotta be good.
Typically, you never rinse off your meat (because you know that’s a big no-no), and even though you follow food safety guidelines to a “T”, the meats feeling a little slimy, so you throw caution to the wind, rinse it off and cook it.
After all, if the meat was starting to turn bad, cooking it will just kill the bacteria. Right?
Sorry to burst your bubble; but that’s a big FAT NO!
How to spot bad meat?
Most times bad meat will have a strong, pungent odor, but there are plenty of times it won’t smell at all. What you do need to pay attention to is the texture and color of the meat.
- Poultry – Fresh poultry should have a very thin liquidy film. If it’s slimy or has a mucus-like coating, or feels sticky, throw it out.
- Pork – Fresh pork should be firm. If it feels sticky or if it has a smell, throw it out.
- Ground Beef – Fresh ground beef should never feel tacky or slimy. If it smells like iron or something else funky, throw it out.
- Steaks & Roasts – Fresh red meat should feel firm. If it feels sticky. to the touch, or is slimy, throw it out.
- Seafood – Fresh seafood should never smell fishy. If you’re buying fish with skin intact, make sure the skin is shiny and the gills have a slightly reddish-hue towards the base. Bad fish has dry skin, cloudy eyes, and the gills are typically purple or brown.
- Live Seafood – (Clams, Muscles, Oysters, Lobster, Crabs) Live seafood should all have some sort of movement. If they’re not moving, you don’t want to eat them. The reason for this is they’ll start to spoil after they die. Lobsters and crabs should have some leg movement. Clams, muscles, and oysters should close their shells once you tap them.
- Deli Meat – Regardless of the cut, deli meat should never smell, feel slimy, or have a glassy sheen. If it does, throw it out.
Superhero Tip: When you walk into your local grocery store and you smell fish either when you first walk in or as you get closer to the seafood counter; do yourself a favor and don’t buy any seafood.
Most meats will undergo a change in color; however, some fresh meat will also tend to change color, so that’s not the best indicator to figure out if you’re meats gone bad. These guidelines should help you in determining if your meats have spoiled:
- Poultry – Fresh poultry should always have a bluish-white to yellow color. Any other color than that, throw it out.
- Pork – Fresh pork should be light to dark pink. If it starts to take on a tan or grayish hue; throw it out.
- Ground Beef – Ground beef should have a red appearance. If the red juice drains out of it and it’s now looking greenish-brown; don’t take a chance on it. Throw it out. NOTE: If your ground beef turns brown, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. That’s just due to the oxidation process.
- Steak & Roasts – Other cuts of meat should have a red appearance. If there are some small brown spots, it still should be okay to eat, as long as it takes up less than 5% of the steaks or roasts. Stay away from any meat that has a green and gray-green tint or spots, as this is bacteria growing.
- Seafood – Fresh seafood should have meat that’s either white, pinkish, or red. The meat should never look gray or blue, and it should never have thick liquid oozing from it.
Superhero Science Fact: The “blood” in raw meat isn’t blood. The liquid is a protein called myoglobin and it’s found in muscle tissue. It carries oxygen through the muscle.
It doesn’t smell bad so it’s still good; right?
Although smelly meat, or meat that just smells overly beefy or gamey, should never be eaten. Would you eat fish that was overly fishy? Okay, maybe you would, but fresh meat, poultry, and seafood should never smell like a cow, a pig, a chicken, or a fish. It should have a very mild almost non-existent scent. If it smells rancid; throw it out!
How long after the sell-by date can I keep my meat in the fridge?
For all types of meats, always look at the packaging for the sell-by date.
The length of time you can keep your meat in the fridge after the sell-by date varies by the type of meat, the cut of the meat, and if it either is boneless or has a bone. Most meats can last in a refrigerator that’s set at 40° F, or below for approximately 2 to 5 days.
To help you even further, start by downloading the Ultimate Food Storage & Temperature Resource Guide, which will help you determine the exact amount of time meats should remain fresh in the fridge and freezer. Click here to grab that; it’ll be super helpful.
How do I know if the meat I ate is bad?
If it tastes funky, has a rancid smell or strange texture; it’s bad. If it’s in your mouth, spit it out and throw the rest of it away (preferably down the garbage disposal, especially if you have a dog). If it’s not for human consumption, you shouldn’t let your dog get hold of it.
What happens if I eat bad meat?
Since everyone’s body is different, and some people have “steel stomachs”, eating spoiled meat is going to affect each person differently. There’s no guarantee you’re gonna get food poisoning from it, but you do stand a much greater risk suffering from serious gastrointestinal distress.
Eating spoiled or bad meat is dangerous to your health.
Some side effects of eating bad meat are fever, vomiting, stomach cramps, and bloody diarrhea. You can read more about the signs of food poisoning in my earlier post Stomach Flu Versus Food Poisoning, How To Tell The Difference.
Although cooking will kill some bacteria, such as E. coli; there may still be toxins left in the meat. These are the toxins that will make you sick such as Bacillus and Clostridium. Both of those are resistant to heat and freezing. In other words, Bacillus and Clostridium will survive the cooking.
It’s best to cut your losses, and throw the meat away.
Think about this. Is your health worth taking the chance? Get food poisoning once, and you’ll have a whole different outlook on whether or not you want to chance eating bad meat.
Meat storage guidelines to remember:
- Poultry can be kept in your refrigerator for two days.
- Ground meat, including sausages, can be kept in your refrigerator for two days.
- Hot dogs can be kept in the fridge for one to two weeks.
- Bacon can be kept in your refrigerator for 7 days.
- Steaks can be kept in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For more in-depth information regarding how long all meats, condiments, and other foods should stay in your fridge, you’ll want to get the Food Storage & Temperature Resource Guide.
Have you ever been stuck between a rock and hard place when it came to deciphering whether your meat was still good? Share with a comment.
Until we meet again,