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How To Tell if Ground Turkey Is Bad

How To Tell if Ground Turkey Is Bad

Turkey is an excellent stand-in ground beef. You can make just about anything with ground turkey you can make with ground beef, including BBQ meatloaf or BBQ burgers.

But just like you need to know if ground beef is bad, you need to know if ground turkey is bad.

What Is Ground Turkey?

Ground turkey is all the rage when it comes to ground meats because it is healthier than most ground meats. But do you actually know what ground turkey is?

As you can imagine, ground turkey is manufactured from turkey meat.

However, ground turkey is usually fabricated from a blend of turkey meat rather than one section of turkey.

Almost all of the ground turkey found in grocery stores is a mixture of white and dark meat.

In addition to this, ground turkey usually always contains some of the turkey’s fat and skin.

The turkey blend is finely ground into a coarse paste that can be used just like ground beef. Ground turkey may also have additives or flavorings.

However, these additional ingredients can be found on the ingredient list.

Why Does Ground Turkey Spoil So Quickly?

Ground turkey spoils so quickly because of temperature and exposure to air. Bacteria and microorganisms begin to multiply at temperatures of 40°F or higher rapidly.

At these temperatures, bacteria can multiply at quadruple the rates they usually do.

If ground turkey is left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it will become riddled with bacteria, making it inedible.

In addition to this, when ground turkey is exposed to air, double the amount of bacteria can develop on the surface of the turkey than if it were stored in a sealed airtight container.

If you suspect that your ground turkey has spoiled, throw it away immediately.

Spoiled poultry is one of the high-risk foods for food poisoning.

How To Store Ground Turkey

Ground turkey can be stored in the fridge or freezer. To refrigerate ground turkey, place it into the fridge as soon as you get home.

Ground turkey can only be stored in the refrigerator for 48 hours. So if you do not intend to use it within 48 hours, freezing it might be better.

Freezing ground turkey will help you maintain its quality for a longer period of time. Ground beef can be stored in the freezer for 4 months.

However, do not exceed 4 months as the ground turkey will start to lose its quality and flavor.

Either way, make sure you place the turkey into an airtight container.

If you are freezing ground turkey, make sure you double wrap it to prevent freezer burn.

How Long Does Cooked Ground Turkey Last

Cooking raw ground turkey is also an excellent way to extend its lifespan if you do not have time to freeze it. Cooked turkey has a shelflife of 3-4 days.

However, the cooked turkey should be stored in an airtight container before placing it into the fridge.

Ground turkey has a lifespan of 4 months in the freezer. However, the ground turkey should be wrapped carefully to prevent freezer burn.

Do not exceed the 4-month deadline, or the turkey’s flavor and texture will start to disintegrate.

How To Tell if Ground Turkey Is Bad

Grinding meat creates more surface area, which increases the risk of ground turkey becoming riddled with bacteria.

This is why knowing if ground beef is bad is so important.

Make sure you use all 3 methods to determine if your ground turkey is spoiled before cooking it.


The nose is the best way to determine if your ground turkey is good or bad. Although it seems rather disgusting to smell meat, it can prevent you from eating bad meat. If your turkey has a strong, pungent, unpleasant odor, it is spoiled.


Next to the nose, the eyes are the best way to tell if your ground turkey is good or bad. If your turkey feels sticky and slimy, it is spoiled and should be thrown away.


Looking at the color of the ground beef can be more challenging than it sounds. Some people recommend trying to remember when you purchased the ground turkey.

However, you probably won’t remember when you bought it since you can’t remember how long it’s been sitting in the fridge.

Fresh ground turkey usually has a bright pink hue.

On the other hand, ground turkey that is gray in color has spoiled and should be tossed immediately.

How To Tell if Frozen Ground Turkey Kept Is Bad

Knowing whether or not frozen ground turkey is bad can be like trying to find a nickel in a jar full of quarters. It’s virtually impossible.

You must defrost the ground turkey to find out if it’s is good or bad. Once the turkey is thawed, inspect it carefully to see if the color, texture, or aroma has changed. If it has changed, discard the ground turkey.

Remember, ground turkey is prone to freezer burn. Freezer burn can easily be detected, so there is no need to thaw it.

If the ground turkey has leathery, dark brown, or gray patches, it is freezer burned.

It’s best to discard freezer-burned ground turkey. Once the ground turkey is thawed, the gray or brown patches will be tough and dry.

Furthermore, cooking freezer-burned ground beef will not improve the ground turkey’s texture and flavor.

What Happens if I Consume Bad Ground Turkey?

Under no circumstances should you eat bad turkey. I know that some people see dollar signs when throwing away ground turkey. However, eating ground turkey is not worth it.

Ground poultry can be riddled with salmonella, E. coli, as well as other bacteria that could cause foodborne illness.

Food poisoning symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain.

Foodborne illness symptoms may present themselves within a few hours or a few days.

Ultimately, consuming bad ground beef is not worth it.

Final Thoughts

There’s no need to wonder if that packet of ground turkey in the fridge is good or bad. Know that you know how to tell if ground turkey is bad.

You can smell, touch, and look at the meat and determine if it is spoiled.

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