How To Know If Ground Beef Is Bad?

Have you ever wondered how to know if ground beef is bad by looking at the package of ground beef? Eating spoiled or expired ground beef can make someone sick! Fortunately, there are several ways to tell if your stored ground beef is safe or has gone bad. In today’s post, I will explain how to know if ground beef is bad. Ground beef is mostly used for making burgers, meatballs, tacos, lasagna, and savory pies. Both raw and cooked ground beef display different signs when they go bad. You can read on to learn more about how to know if ground beef is bad.

How To Know If Ground Beef Is Bad?

In this section, I will discuss everything about how to know if ground beef is bad in detail. Home cooks and chefs need to be careful while using ground beef as it is highly perishable. Even though it satisfies foodies and picky eaters, eating spoiled ground beef can be dangerous.

You can consider the following spoilage signs to learn how to know if raw ground beef is bad.

  1. Texture Changes

The best way to check your ground beef is by performing a touch test. Fresh raw ground beef has a firm texture that breaks apart easily when you squeeze it. Simply squeeze your ground beef with your fingers to feel its texture. If your beef feels sticky or slimy in texture, it is no longer safe to eat. Also, spoiled beef won’t even crumble as easily as fresh beef.

  1. Color Changes

The discoloration is a clear sign that the ground beef has gone bad. Fresh raw ground beef should always be red in color. Brown or dull gray color clearly indicates that the ground beef is spoiled. However, raw ground beef is safe to eat if the inner section is grey and the outer section is still red. This happens when oxygen is unable to reach the center of the beef. The outer layer of the ground beef turns greyish-brown when the myoglobin protein reacts with oxygen.

Keep on reading further to learn more about how to know if frozen ground beef is bad.

  1. Signs of Molds

When you leave your ground beef unattended for too long, it will slowly grow molds. Make sure you visually examine your ground beef before you start cooking. If you notice any small molds on the top layer of your beef, you should immediately throw it out.

  1. Smells Pungent

Just like other foodstuffs even ground beef gives a weird pungent smell when goes bad. Makes sure you take a quick sniff of the beef before you start cooking. Usually, fresh raw grounded beef gives a tangy, putrid odor. There is a change in smell due to the increased growth of spoilage bacteria. You can go ahead if you don’t smell anything sour or off-putting smell.

However, it’s better to throw away the beef if it doesn’t smell sour but still shows a change in color or texture.

You can keep on reading to know more about how to know if ground beef is bad.

  1. Expires

Every package of ground beef has a use-by, sell-by, and expiration date on its outer packaging. Here, the sell-by date indicates how long a product can be kept on the counter. The use-by date indicates the product should be used within the mentioned date. And the expiry date indicates when the product will go bad. It is important to look at your beef packaging before you start cooking with it.

Generally, raw ground beef is safe to use for around 3 days after the sell-by date. Raw ground beef kept in the fridge for 7 days is safe to eat only if the meat hasn’t passed its sell-by date.

You can keep on reading to learn how to know if ground beef is bad after cooking.

Spoilage Signs Of Cooked Ground Beef

Most people prefer to keep leftover cooked ground beef in the refrigerator. You must learn how to know if cooked ground beef is bad if you like to store leftover cooked beef. If it has a similar texture and smell as the day you cooked it, it is good and safe to eat. But if it feels slimy or mushy and smells sour, your meat is probably spoiled. Sometimes, you may even see a green tint on the top layer of the meat.

Now, you must be wondering how to know if ground beef is bad after thawing. You can consider the same spoilage signs to determine if thawed ground beef is bad. Simply check if it has an odor, feels slimy to the touch, or is off-color.

You can keep on reading to find out what happens if you eat bad ground beef.

Side Effects Of Eating Bad Ground Beef

I hope now you’ve understood how to know if ground beef is bad. You should be very cautious while consuming ground beef. Eating spoiled ground beef can be dangerous and cause the following side effects.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody stools
  • Dehydration

However, some infections can be mild but they can even be life-threatening in some cases.

Tips To Store Ground Beef

After learning how to know if ground beef is bad, you must learn to prevent it from spoiling. Proper handling and storing of ground beef is a must to avoid food poisoning from meat. You can consider the following safety tips to store your ground beef.

  • While purchasing ground beef, choose a package that is cold to the touch and in good condition. Ensure that there are no holes or scratches on the outer packaging.
  • Always check the color and expiration date of the meat package.
  • Never keep the ground beef unrefrigerated for a long time. You can buy it at last and head home directly from the store or within 2 hours of purchase.
  • Always keep your ground meat below 4°C in the fridge. 
  • Always keep raw meat separately in your cart to avoid cross-contamination or the spread of bacteria.
  • You can keep the meat packet on the lowest shelf to prevent its juices from leaking.
  • You can store your leftovers within 2 hours of cooking and eat them within 3 to 4 days.

Make sure you always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling ground beef. 

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How Do You Know When Ground Beef Is Bad?

Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Smell and visually examine at your ground beef, and if it’s brown or an off odor, those could be signs that your ground beef is spoiled. Always remember — when in doubt, throw it out!

What Does Spoiled Ground Beef Smell Like?

Normally, fresh ground beef has the smell of iron. If the meat has been bad for a while, it will probably feature a strong rotten scent. Most bad meat smells rancid and/or pungent, but you should be wary of any and all strange smells. Rotten meat can even smell sweet at times.

Can You Tell If Cooked Ground Beef Is Bad?

The meat should have a similar texture and smell as the day you cooked it. A slimy or mushy feel, a green tint, or a sour or rotten-egg smell are all signs that your meat is probably spoiled.

Is It OK To Eat Ground Beef That Has Turned Brown?

Don’t worry! When ground beef changes color, it does not necessarily mean it has gone bad. Ground beef turning brown is a normal reaction involving myoglobin and oxygen. And the hamburger is usually still good to eat.

Is It Normal For Beef To Have A Slight Smell?

Fresh red meat has a light bloody, or metallic smell. This scent isn’t overpowering and you will usually have to place your nose very close to smell it. On the other hand, if your steak has gone bad, it will have a definitive odor that smells sour, or a little like eggs or ammonia.

At What Point Does Ground Beef Go Bad?

It is safe to store ground beef in the refrigerator for 1–2 days, and eat leftovers within 4 days. A person can store ground beef in the freezer for up to 4 months. When cooking ground beef, the minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer is 160°F (71°C).


By reading the above post, you got to know how to know if ground beef is bad on Reddit. When your ground beef is sticky or slimy in texture, turns brown, or gives a sour rancid smell, it has most likely gone bad. It’s still safe to consume ground beef that is brown on outside but pink inside. However, expired ground beef is not safe to use as it has passed its sell-by date. Consuming spoiled ground beef is very dangerous and causes foodborne illnesses. Once you understand how to know if ground beef is bad, you can reduce your risk of infection.

How do you know when ground beef goes bad