Beef is an excellent way to add protein to your diet. In fact, ground beef is a staple ingredient that’s stored in refrigerators and freezers across the world.
We automatically know that it’s fresh and sourced from a reliable, reputable supplier when we purchase ground beef. However, how do you know when beef is bad?
We can store them in the fridge or freezer from brisket to ranch steaksto bottom round roast and top round steak.
However, the longer beef is stored, it is bound to spoil at some point.
Why Is Eating Spoiled Beef Bad for You?
There’s no easy way to say it; consuming bad beef is not healthy. Beef can contain two types of bacteria: spoilage bacteria and pathogenic bacteria.
Spoilage bacteria are usually not harmful to humans, but they cause the quality of the beef to deteriorate.
Spoilage bacteria will also affect the meat’s flavor and release unpleasant aromas.
On the other hand, pathogenic bacteria can be extremely damaging to human health. Pathogenic bacteria are classed as contaminants that can cause foodborne illness or food poisoning.
For this reason, you must proceed carefully if you think your beef is bad as it can cause food poisoning.
Symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, fever, upset stomach, dehydration, vomiting, or bloody stool.
There have been multiple cases of foodborne illnesses associated with ground beef.
The pathogenic bacteria that were responsible for these outbreaks include Escherichia coli, also known as E.coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter.
Most cases of foodborne illnesses are mild; however, in some cases, foodborne illnesses may be deadly.
Can I Freeze Beef?
Of course, you can freeze beef; it extends the beef’s shelf life. Freezing works well for cooked or raw beef.
While refrigerating ground beef can decrease the rapid development of bacteria, it will not stop them from multiplying.
In contrast, freezing beef at 0ºC or 32ºF means it can be stored longer. Freezing beef at cold temperatures inhibits the spread of bacteria.
In the same way, refrigerating beef is not the be-all-end-all; freezing beef doesn’t mean it will last forever.
Beef stored in the freezer for longer than 4 months is susceptive to freezer burn.
Freezer burn occurs when the texture of the beef is altered due to oxidation in the freezer.
Freezer burn is usually attributed to inadequate packaging. This is why you vacuum seal all of your beef.
Luckily we’ve got the 5 best vacuum sealer guide to help you purchase a quality vacuum sealer.
Nevertheless, freezer burn does not necessarily mean inedible. However, it can have an impact on the beef’s flavor once it has thawed.
Therefore storing beef in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed package helps extend its shelf life.
How To Tell if Beef Is Bad
As mentioned above, spoiled beef can make people sick. No one intends to make another person sick by serving them bad beef, so it is imperative that you store your beef properly.
Luckily, there are warning signs that can tell you whether beef is bad or not. There are four ways to tell if beef is bad.
According to the USDA, ground meats should be consumed 1-2 days after it is purchased.
In contrast, cuts of beef should be cooked within 3-5 days.
Waiting until your beef has an unpleasant odor or signs of spoilage to toss beef isn’t necessarily the best option.
However, the recommended storage times are one of the best ways to tell whether beef is bad.
Texture and Aroma
There’s always a risk with leaving meat in the refrigerator as it will start to spoil after a while.
If at any point your beef is slimy, sticky, gummy, or releases an unpleasant aroma, throw it in the trash.
After some time, beef, especially ground beef, may develop a gray color. However, this does not mean the beef is spoiled.
Beef can turn from red to brown due to metmyoglobin. This is a chemical reaction that happens after myoglobin in meat comes into contact with oxygen.
Metmyoglobin is unlikely to happen if your beef is vacuum-sealed.
However, if you source your beef from your local butcher or it is packaged in a loosely sealed container, oxidation is likely to occur.
Nevertheless, as long as the expiry date has not passed and it is not releasing an unpleasant smell, the beef is okay to consume.
As long as it is not past its expiration date and smells good, it should be fine.
If your beef has an oily sheen, green color, or noticeable signs of bacteria, it should not be consumed. Throw the beef in the trash.
Moreover, freezing beef can also alter its appearance. However, as long as there are no other signs of spoilage, the beef is okay to consume.
When in Doubt
Ever cooked a portion of ground beef but struggled to remember when it was cooked? If you want to know how to tell if ground beef is bad, check out our guide.
How many times have you cooked or eaten steak that’s been sitting in the fridge for a while?
Rather than risking it and consuming spoiled beef and potentially contracting food poisoning.
The next time you think about consuming food that’s been sitting in the refrigerator, ask yourself, is this beef worth getting sick?
Like the adage says, when in doubt, throw your beef out.
Lack of Moisture
This particular tip applies to steaks. One way to tell if your steaks have spoiled is by examining the moisture content.
If your steaks feel dry when they are touched or are dry and contain virtually no juices once it is defrosted, the steak will not be as delectable as you hoped it would be.
A lack of moisture doesn’t necessarily mean the steak is spoiled. However, moisture loss can affect the steak’s taste and texture of the finished seared steak.
The truth is unless your steak contains a heavy amount of marbling which renders and increases the steak’s moisture content, you will probably yield a dry steak that is as tough as nails.
Vacuum sealing your steak before placing it into the freezer will help preserve the steak’s natural moisture content and prevent them from coming into contact with bacteria that could accelerate the rate of spoilage, mold, and nasty aromas.
How Long Does Cooked Beef Last in the Fridge?
Up until this point, we’ve only discussed how to know when raw beef is bad. However, it is also important to discuss how to tell when cooked ground beef or steaks are bad.
Yes, cooking beef extends beef’s shelf life, but it will not last forever.
The appearance of cooked beef is not an adequate way of determining whether beef is bad or not since it is already brown.
In addition to this, ingredients such as tomato sauce or dishes that call for beef to be combined with other ingredients also make it difficult to determine if beef is bad.
While you can cook beef up until its expiration date, it must be tossed within 3-4 days after it was cooked. In addition to this, cooked beef should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
How to Safely Store Beef
Whether you are storing marinated chicken, beef, or storing pork butt-or shoulder, you must do it carefully to prevent yourself or your loved ones from developing food poisoning.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service developed four safety principles that should be used when storing beef or any other meat.
These principles include clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Wash your hands properly and clean your surfaces regularly.
When preparing or storing raw meat, such as fruits, vegetables, or bread, keep raw meat separate from other foods.
In addition to this, cook your foods to the recommended temperature and for the correct time. Lastly, refrigerate foods such as raw meats immediately at the correct temperature.
Speaking of storing foods at the correct temperature, make sure your fridge has a temperature that is 40°F (4°C) or below.
Furthermore, ensure your freezer has a temperature that’s 0°F (-17°C) or below. Moreover, the recommended internal temperature of ground beef is 160°F (71°C).
The only way to tell if your beef has reached the recommended internal temperature is by using a thermometer.
Additionally, never leave beef sitting on your countertop for over 2 hours as it can cause bacteria to rapidly develop on the surface of the beef.
No one can deny that beef is a versatile meat. After all, it is a staple ingredient in many people’s diets.
However, knowing when beef has gone bad is critical as it has a shorter shelf life than other cuts of meat.
Not only can this destroy the texture and flavor of the beef, but it can also cause you to develop a foodborne illness.
Remember, pay attention to the appearance, texture, expiration date, and aroma of your beef.
You might also be interested in:
- How To Tell If Ground Turkey Is Bad
- How To Tell If Steak Is Bad
- How To Tell If Ground Beef Is Bad
- How To Tell If a Hamburger Is Bad
- How To Tell If Pork Chops Are Bad
- How To Tell If Bacon Is Bad
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.