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Meat is considered spoiled when it is no longer safe for human consumption.
Red meat, poultry, and seafood all exhibit different spoilage signs.
Depending on the type of meat you consume, you need to watch for color, texture, or unpleasant odors.
Steak, for example, goes bad when it is exposed to air, when it is improperly refrigerated or frozen, or when it is infested with microorganisms such as salmonella.
Before you cook your steak, you need to check whether the meat is good or not.
Here are the signs to look for how to tell if steak is bad.
Examine the package for an expiration date. Read the “sell-by” date.
Meat that is fresh and frozen has a date that is intended to be sold by.
The shelf life of red meat is approximately 1-3 days if it is raw, and 7-10 days if it is cooked.
Throw any meat that has passed the expiration date.
If the meat is two to three days beyond the sell-by date, do not consume it.
Examine the color of the steak.
A spoiled steak will have either green or blackened appearance.
This is caused by the formation of mold.
Avoid eating red meat with a greenish hue.
Sometimes, your meat might show signs of browning without a greenish hue.
This is not necessarily a sign of rooting.
When you are in doubt of the meat’s color, throw it away.
Smell the steak. Raw meat that is spoiled has a distinctive and very unpleasant odor.
The odor is quite rancid.
And if there is any question about the odor of the steak, throw it away to be sure. The foul odor is similar to the sulfur or ammonia smell.
When you check the meat for a smell, do not press your nose against or near the meat to smell.
Just cup your hand near the meat, and move the hand towards your face to get a whiff of the meat.
Touch the surface of the steak. Spoiled steak is sticky to the touch.
The steak will also have a slimy texture, which is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, and it is a clear sign that the meat has gone bad.
You can touch the steak with a utensil such as fork, not your hands.
Even without looking at the previous steps, if your red meat has been in the fridge for more than 5 days, throw it away.
Chopped meats, such as steak, can last between 3 and 5 days in the fridge.
But anything more than that, and you need to throw it away.
What happens if you cook a spoiled steak?
Bad meat is a breeding ground for bacteria including Salmonella, Bacillus, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and much more.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of bacteria in meat can double every 20 minutes when left at a temperature from 40 F to 140 F.
Cooking kills bacteria.
When cooking meat until it reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit destroys Salmonella.
Cooking will also kill E. coli, but toxins usually remain in the meat, which still leaves the meat unsafe to eat.
The problem is, some bacteria will still survive the cooking.
For example, Bacillus and Clostridium survive freezing and cooking.
This is why the USDA recommends against eating spoiled meat, even if it is cooked.
If you notice any signs of spoiled meat, and we talked about how to tell if steak is bad, throw away the meat.
Forget the money you paid for that, your health is more precious.
Tips for preventing meat spoilage
Here are a couple of ways to prevent meat from spoiling.
Bear in mind, this will not help you keep your steak for forever.
- Avoid thawing your meat on the kitchen counter. Instead, thaw your meat using the microwave
- Do not leave your meat out at room temperature for long periods of time, as it increases the risk of spoilage
- Store meat at a safe temperature, which is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Throw away food that has been kept for many hours at a room temperature
- If you do not plan to eat it soon, freeze your meat. Bear in mind, meat cannot last forever in the freezer. Place it in a sealed container and freeze it, and it can last for a few months
- Avoid eating expired or unrefrigerated meat
- Check the meat’s internal temperature while cooking. Cooking red meat to between 120 and 165 F is ideal