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How To Tell if Steak Is Bad?

How To Tell if Steak Is Bad?

Steak is one of those foods that are simply delicious. However, like most cuts of beef, it has an expiration date.

Even if it is frozen, the steak will eventually go bad if it is not stored properly or stored for too long.

Nothing is more hurtful than craving a steak removing the steak from its packaging, and finding out it has spoiled after you have consumed it.

More importantly, besides the god-awful taste of the steak, you can also contract or give someone else food poisoning.

No one wants to give another person food poisoning. Therefore it is important to know when your ranch steaks have gone bad.

How To Tell if Steak Is Bad

Whether it is ground beef or steak, certain signs are associated with spoiled steak.

These signs include the expiration date, the texture, smell, and color of the meat.

If you’re interested in learning about how to tell if ground beef is bad, check out our in-depth guide.

Expiration Date

The expiry date is the best way to tell whether a steak is bad or good.

Before you purchase your steaks at the grocery store or butcher shop, check the expiration date to make sure the steak is not expired and that it will not expire before you get the chance to cook it.

In addition to this, it’s also important to know the difference between the sell-by date and the use-by-date.

You may see these labeling terms used interchangeably; however, they are not the same labels.

The sell-by-date refers to or indicates the timeframe the retailer has to sell the steak to the customer giving them, adequate time to prepare the steak.

In contrast, the use-by-date refers to the specific date a consumer should consume the meat.

Some individuals can consume the steak 1-2 days after it has expired. However, it is best to be cautious and discard the steak on its expiry date.


Another way to tell if your steak is bad is the texture of the steak. If your steak has a slimy texture, it has spoiled.

When touching the steak, you will notice it is sticky, slippery film on the steak, which is an indication that mold is about to develop on the surface of the steaks.

Like a sponge soaking up water, molding means that your steak has soaked bacteria and is no longer safe to consume.


Even though steaks may have a slimy film, they may be some discoloration. Sometimessteaks can turn from a beautiful red color to a brown, yellow, and in some instances, green color.

All cuts of beef are known for their red color. This is in part because of 2 proteins: myoglobin and hemoglobin.

Myoglobin gives beef its red color, while hemoglobin is present in the blood.

After steaks are sliced, myoglobin interacts with oxygen, and it transforms the steak to a purplish-red color.

After oxygen exposure for 30 minutes, the color will change from purplish-red to a cherry shade of red.

After 3 days, myoglobin will oxidize and turn the steak brown. When it comes to steak, brown color is no cause for concern.

At the same time, just because the steak turns a different color does not mean it is spoiled.

Bottom Line
The best way to tell if your steaks have gone bad by looking at the color is to look for darkened color patches on your steak.


A dry steak is probably a bad steak. Steaks with signs of dehydration or shrinkage are a telltale sign that the steak’s worst days are ahead.

Nevertheless, the level of dryness does not mean you are going to contract food poisoning.

Dryness has an impact on the texture and flavor of the steak.

The only instance where dryness will not affect the steak’s texture and the flavor is if it has a healthy amount of marbling.

The best way to prevent a steak from drying is to vacuum-seal it. Luckily we’ve got the 5 best vacuum sealer guide to helo you choose the perfect tool for the job.

Vacuum sealing the steaks helps maintain the steak’s moisture levels and prevents the steak from absorbing bacteria.


The smell is another easy way to tell if the steak has spoiled. Yes, raw steak is not the same as smelling your favorite cologne.

However, you will be able to detect an unpleasant smell if your steak is bad.

There is a significant difference between how good steaks smell and spoiled steak smells. If the smell of the steak makes you scowl, it is probably spoiled.

If it reaks of an ammonia-like scent, it is also a sign that it is bad.

This rule does not apply to dry-aged steaks. Dry-aged steaks certainly don’t smell like freshly baked pumpkin pie.

However, this does not mean your steaks are unsafe to consume.

Lactic acid is discharged during the aging process, which means that your dry-aged steaks may have a cheese aroma.

Therefore the smell is not the best method of determining whether dry-aged steaks are good or bad.

Instead, it’s best to examine the steaks for discoloration or a slimy film.

How To Tell if Frozen Steak Are Bad?

Many individuals buy steaks in bulk, especially if they are on sale, and divide them into smaller portions.

While this is a money saver, you must take a few extra steps to ensure they do not spoil.

One of these steps involves knowing how to tell if your steak has spoiled. The biggest sign that a steak has spoiled is freezer burn.

Examine your frozen steak wrapping to see if there are any perforations. Next, determine whether there are any ice crystals on the surface of the steak.

In addition to this, a greyish brown color is another indication your steak is freezer burned.

Hot Tip
Like dryness, freezer burn isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The taste and flavor will drastically be affected, but you can cut the steak up for a stew or cook it using the slow cooker.

How To Keep Steaks Fresh

Ultimately the goal is to prevent the steak from spoiling before you get the chance to cook it. The first step is to determine when you plan to eat your steak.

If you plan to sear the steak the same day you purchase it, there is not much to do.

Place your steak in the fridge and allow it to sit on your countertop for 30 minutes before you intend to cool it.

If you are going to cook your Tomahawk steaks within 1-2 days, place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The last way to preserve steaks is by freezing. This is the best preservation method if you intend to eat your steaks at a later date.

As previously mentioned, the best way to freeze steaks is to remove them from their original packaging and vacuum-sealed them.

The vacuum sealer will remove the air surrounding the steak, which causes freezer burn. This will allow you to keep the steaks fresh for a longer period of time.

When purchasing steak, you must also consider the expiration date that could pass will they are in the freezer.

Most people simply toss their steaks into the freezer and forget about them.

However, you should consider the expiration date and when you intend to cook your steak before purchasing it.

One method that you could use to track the expiry date of your frozen steak is to write a list of your frozen foods along with their expiration date.

You can also write the date you froze the steak to the list and attach it to the fridge so you can avoid wasting your beautiful steaks.

It’s also important to be careful when purchasing steaks that are on sale. Some retailers discount steaks if the expiry window is closing.

While it is affordable, pay attention to the expiry date so you can know whether you need to eat them tonight or whether they can be frozen.

If the best use day five or more days in the freezer, you have a longer time consuming your steaks.

Final Thoughts

No one can deny that steak is a delicious, flavorful, and succulent food.

However, it is so disappointing when you finally get the chance to cook those Denver steaks in your icebox only to discover they are spoiled.

It does not matter whether it is an eye of round steak or top round steak; tossing it in the trash means you are wasting food and money.

The best way to prevent spoilage is to know how to store your steak properly.

However, knowing how to tell if steak is bad is just important as properly storing steak.

Remember, if it has a slimy texture, unpleasant ammonia or cheesy odor, and dark brown, green or yellow patches, your steaks have probably gone bad.

If your steak meets any of these criteria, toss it in the trash. Now that you know how to tell if steak is bad, your stomach will never have to suffer again.

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