How Can You Tell if a Steak is Spoiled?


steak is spoiled lg

There’s nothing like a great steak perfectly cooked. But sometimes we buy meat 1 or more days ahead of time. And occasionally, it may look darker or have an off smell. So, how can you tell if a steak is spoiled?

Here’s what I know from decades of experience:

A steak is spoiled if it is slimy to the touch, has a foul odor, has turning greyish-green in color, has an unusual and off-putting shine to it, or if it’s totally dry. But unless it had been previously frozen, also ensure the sell-by date has not passed.

But the above is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Read on to learn more as we explore the issue in some depth. In this article, we’ll check out if a steak is bad if it has already turned brown.

We’ll look at what happens if you were to eat spoiled steak (something I won’t recommend). Then, we’ll check out how long you can keep raw steak in the fridge.

And whether it’s okay to eat steak after its use-by-date. We’ll call it a wrap by looking at whether vacuum-sealed meat goes bad in the freezer.

Let’s dive right in.

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Is a steak bad if it turns brown?

A steak is not necessarily bad because it turns brown. The brown color is an indication that the steak has been exposed to oxygen and light. So it may have been improperly wrapped at the store or may be close to the sell-by date and not as fresh as it had been.

When it is vacuum-sealed and stored where the possibility of exposure to oxygen is remote, it remains reddish. 

The color change, when it is not vacuum-sealed, shows that a chemical reaction has occurred. It’s not necessarily a reflection of spoilage. What’s this chemical reaction? There are two pigments responsible for the color of meat: myoglobin and oxymyoglobin. 

When meat is fresh and is not exposed to oxygen, it’s purple-red, this is because of myoglobin. 

But when it’s been exposed to oxygen, myoglobin forms the second pigment, oxymyoglobin, and the meat assumes a vibrant cherry-red color.

If meat is kept in a plastic wrap which allows it to still come in contact with air, it will still retain a reddish hue. 

But continued exposure to light and air and the interaction of myoglobin and oxymyoglobin leads to the formation of a third pigment, metmyoglobin. This is the pigment that turns meat into brown.

It’s not an indication that your steak’s gone bad.

What happens if you eat spoiled steak?

Eating a spoiled steak can induce symptoms of food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, and, in rare cases, fever. At the very least, it can cause an upset stomach and indigestion.

(source)

“What if I cooked the steak really well?” 

Cooking does help in destroying some toxins. Some are heat-resistant. So it’s best not to try and salvage spoiled steak by cooking it. Even cooking it well-done does not ensure you won’t get sick. It’s not worth toying with one’s health. Simply throw spoiled steak away.

In other words, you could easily become a victim of food poisoning. 

Food poisoning simply refers to a condition where food has been contaminated by parasites, toxins, molds, allergens, viruses, or bacteria. Experts actually call it a foodborne illness.

Some of the bacteria in the gut sends a signal to the vomiting center in the brain. 

This is why vomiting is usually what happens when we eat spoiled food. They can also affect the intestine and trigger gastrointestinal issues.

The key symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

However, really bad cases of food poisoning can also include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Body pain

(source)

These symptoms do not all appear at the same time. Depending on what triggered the poisoning, symptoms may appear about 30 minutes later, while it could be 30 days later in some cases. 

Pregnant women, senior citizens, children, and those with a serious illness that has adversely impacted their immune systems are more at risk when they accidentally eat spoiled steak. 

It’s best to consult a doctor as soon as possible if you think you ate a spoiled steak. 

It’s not something one should treat lightly. The CDC estimates that 48 million people experience it every year, and 3,000 die from it.

Say you mistakenly bought and consumed spoiled steak, can you sue the grocery store? 

This is the theme of a recent article where I explored what happens if a supermarket sells expired food. I spoke about whether it’s even illegal to sell expired food. And, I shared how much a store can be fined for selling expired food.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long is raw steak good in the fridge?

FoodSafety.gov recommends that raw steak is stored for 3 to 5 days in the fridge and 6 to 12 months in the freezer. But for fresh steaks, also ensure it is fully cooked before the best-by date.

(source)

But how it’s packaged can also impact this. 

Raw steak, if it is vacuum-sealed, can last for up to two weeks in the fridge. This is because it’s not in contact with oxygen. Just ensure it’s still within the best-by date and has a purple or deep red color. 

The USDA recommends that raw steak should be cooked within 5 days. (source)

The implication is that raw steak is good in the fridge for 4 days, 5 days max. So, ideally, you want to cook your steak before or by the fifth day.

If this is not feasible, the best thing to do is to freeze them until you’re ready. But steak should not be stored in the freezer for more than 12 months. Freezing prevents the growth of bacteria. 

Like most people, you’ve probably wondered what supermarkets do with spoiled food. 

You have, right? Well, you’re in luck because, in a recent article, I revealed exactly what they do. I shared how much food they throw away. I explained whether they donate food and if it’s okay for them to give away expired food.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is steak OK to eat after the use-by date?

A steak doesn’t automatically become bad after the use-by date, as that is an estimate. It is, however, best to eat the steak before or on the date, as that is when it is still the freshest and still retains more of its flavor and taste.

But it may still be safe 1-2 days after the date. You’ll need to use good judgment.

Of course, the date is not the only factor to consider. How the steak has been preserved is also a key factor. Even if it’s before the use-by date, if it has not been preserved properly, you have to be very careful, as it may have gone bad. If it has been well preserved, you can still use it a day or two afterward, but it may not taste as good.

But if you notice that it has assumed a greyish-green hue, has a slimy texture, or has an awful odor, it’s best to throw it away. 

The key thing to keep in mind is that it’s better to be safe than sorry. And forget about rinsing it in salt or something like that. 

Salt can’t get rid of the toxins I mentioned earlier.

Does vacuum-sealed meat go bad in the freezer?

Cooked meat that is vacuum-sealed can last between one to three years in the freezer. Raw pork, beef, and poultry can last up to three years vacuum-sealed in the freezer. Ground beef can last up to one year.

Aside from canning, vacuum-sealing food is the next best option to preserve meat. 

It is a lot better than using aluminum foil, Tupperware, or plastic wrap. It prevents oxygen from gaining access to your meat. That way, mold, and bacteria cannot grow on them. 

At the least, it slows down the rate at which they can grow. The best practice for freezing meat is to leave it wrapped in the package it came in from the store.

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Of course, the quality of the meat, to start with, also has an impact on frozen shelf life. So which grocery store has the best meat?

That’s what I looked at in a recent article. In it, I shared an interesting graphic showing where each type of steak comes from on the cow. 

But I also explained what makes one type of steak better than another. And I revealed the stores where you can get the best steak.

Just click the link to read it on my site. 

Conclusion  

In this article, we checked out if a steak is bad if it has already turned brown. 

We also looked at what happens if you were to eat spoiled steak. Then, we checked out how long you can keep raw steak in the fridge. And whether it’s okay to eat steak after its use-by date. 

We called it a wrap by looking at whether vacuum-sealed meat goes bad in the freezer.

Looking for the best chicken and beef and unhappy with what your local store has?

Now thanks to Cooks Venture, you can get pasture-raised meats delivered right to your door with free fast shipping.

Once you try it, you’ll be astounded at how much better the quality is! Imagine the taste of that grass-fed ribeye fresh off your grill!

Use code TRYCV at checkout for $20 off your first box! – CLICK HERE to take a look.

No doubt you’ve seen Cooks Venture raved about by Forbes and The Washington Post. Now it’s your turn!

Just chose the combination box that’s right for you; beef, chicken, or the best of both. Flash frozen and vacuum-sealed means it will be farm fresh whenever you’re ready!

With every purchase, you support building a better food system for the animals, the planet, and us. Humanly raised and a proud supporter of the non-GMO Project!

CLICK HERE to see all their amazing offerings on their website.


Image by Robert Prax from Pixabay

stinky by Christopher Holden is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and merged with the 1st image with a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades. I worked in 9 stores in 4 states, not counting the hundred-plus stores I've assisted in other ways. I was a Global All-Star, a Gold Pen Winner, and won Top-10 Store (company-wide) 3 times in addition to Best New Store (company-wide).

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