How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

Last update: 2021-11-28

Steak that's gone bad not only leaves a gross experience in the taste but also hides some health risks. While most bacteria growing in spoiled steaks can be killed through cooking, some potential poison might be developed, which causes gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, or/and fever.

To avoid that, here is a thorough guide on how to tell if steak is bad, gone off, or spoiled.

Paper-Like Dry Texture & Leathery Feel

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

The paper-like dry texture is caused by the thawing process that makes natural beef juices flow out, which also ends up with a leathery feel when you poke it.

These two signs don't tell that the steak is spoiled, but will negatively affect the taste of your meal.

How to prevent this:

  • Choose pieces of raw beef that is USDA Prime labeled
  • Find steaks with much marbling as they contain high amounts of fat for better juice retention.
  • Before freezing the meat, vacuum seal it - which not only helps retain natural juices but also prevents bacteria growth.

Green Patches Or Furry White On The Meat Surface

Needless to say, this is a clear sign of spoiled steaks, so don't regret throwing it away.

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

Mold growth usually happens on steaks when they're stored in the refrigerator for at least two days, and it usually comes with strange odors.

Good Raw Beef Should Feel Fleshy And Smooth.

But if one day, you detect a slightly yellow or clear slimy film on the meat surface or your fingers feel sticky when running over it, that's a negative sign of spoiled steaks.

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

How to prevent this:

When choosing raw beef, always check them before buying.

Give It A Good Sniff Before Cooking

Normal raw beef barley has odors or if there are, it is not discernible to human noses.

From that point, if you sniff any sweet, cloying smell or ammonia-like odors on the meat before cooking, it's probably a bad sign of bacteria growth. But just "PROBABLY"!

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

There are some cases where your nose might trick you. For example, dry-aged beef occasionally smells strange because of lactic acid but is still safe to eat.

To check if your initial perception is right, always combine several tests using different senses, too.

Look At The Use-By Date Or Sell-by Date

If your steaks come stamped with a sell-by date or use-by date, you can rely on it to tell whether the meat is spoiled or not.

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

So, what are the sell-by date and use-by date? What's the difference between them? - you might ask.

Use-by date lets you know that you should use the steak before that cutoff point. Later than that, you should throw it away. When a tray of steak is stamped with a use-by date, it should be frozen or cooked by that time. And, if you plan to freeze it, do so at least two days before the cutoff point.

For example, if the steak that you bought has a use-by date of October 14th, you should freeze it no later than October 10th.

Sell-by date, as its name implies, tells you the day that the steak is displayed on the shelves for sale. To ensure the safety and freshness of the meat, you should only consume the product within 3 days from that date.

Now, what to do if your steaks don't have any of those stamps?

You should label the product on your own by marking the date you bought it, which prevents you from forgetting how long it's been in your fridge/freezer.

You Can't Count How Many Days The Steak Has Been In Your Fridge Or Freezer

According to USDA, steaks are safe to consume within 3-4 days from the time it's purchased if stored in a refrigerator and up to 12 months if stored in a freezer.

If the steak stays longer than that in your fridge or freezer, throw them away.

Pro tips:

To enjoy the most freshness of the steak, it is recommended to buy it a day before you plan to cook because you will get enough time to marinate it.

Conclusion

Lastly, I’d like to end this article by answering the question that I’ve got asked a lot by my readers “Is it safe to consume steaks that turn a grayish-brown color?”.

How to Tell if Steak is Bad, Gone off, or Spoiled

Actually, it is 50:50. Let me explain! While fresh beef obviously has a red color, it will turn to a grayish-brown color if frozen or exposed to oxygen. In this case, it is safe and still tasteful to consume.

But spoiled steaks also have that color. To determine whether it’s still edible or should be discarded, you should rely on other signs as shown above. That’s all for this article. I hope that now, you’ve already known how to tell if steak is bad, gone off, or spoiled. Thanks for reading!

Eugene Williams
Eugene Williams

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