How To Tell If Ground Beef is Bad?


Why does minced meat turn gray on the inside and go bad so quickly – How does the discoloration of mince occur and whether it is spoiled?

Minced meat turns gray inside after a short time, even if it is very fresh and of very good quality. The discolored minced meat does not always have to be bad or spoiled. Minced meat, whether mutton, veal, beef or other animals should always be processed as quickly as possible. But it is also important to learn how to tell if meat is bad?

When it is clearly too late, everyone will notice rotten meat: a sweet, pungent smell strikes from the open refrigerator, the soft down of mushroom sprouts on the surface. No microbiological examination is required for this form of spoilage, and the consequence is clear: Put it in the bin.

The common thing about rotten meat, however, is that not all pathogens that can make people sick are visible, smell or taste. It is therefore particularly helpful to know how to protect meat from spoiling and extend its shelf life in order to minimize your own risk.

Pathogens can be found on every piece of meat as soon as the animal is slaughtered. Different bacteria contaminate the meat during the slaughter itself, even if many of them are not a problem for humans. The pathogens come from animal skin or splash water, for example, they are enterobacteria, micrococci, fecal streptococci, pseudomonads, lactobacilli, and spore formers.

The list by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is not complete – but the experts make it clear what consumers can look out for when it comes to meat and what is important from slaughter to consumption: storage.

  • Temperature: Typical meat bacteria multiply best between +18 and +30 degrees Celsius. The ideal storage temperature is between +2 and +7 degrees, the refrigerator should keep a temperature between +2 and +4 degrees Celsius.

    Frozen meat, which is protected from drying out (freezer burn), has the longest shelf life. The bacteria on the meat even become fewer in the freezer, whereas bacterial spores survive the refrigeration and can multiply again after thawing.
  • Type of meat: minced meat and goulash last less long than lean meat in one piece. While the muscle meat is protected from the penetration of the bacteria by a shell, the pathogens in minced meat can use a much larger surface to multiply. Meat is a wonderful breeding ground for many bacteria.

    While meat in one piece can be kept well chilled for up to two weeks, minced meat begins to spoil after two days at the latest.
  • Water content: Meat with high water content spoils faster than relatively dry meat. The pH value in meat is also important, but normal consumers cannot determine it. Watery meat can be recognized by its color and consistency: it is pale and soft.
  • Packaging : The bacterial flora develops differently depending on whether the meat is loosely packaged, airtight, or stored in a vacuum.

In the supermarket, at the butcher’s or at the weekly market, common sense is particularly helpful:

  • Is the counter clean and chilled? Anyone who messes up with the presentation of the goods will certainly not take it too seriously behind the scenes with hygiene.
  • Are freezers only filled to the mark? If the boxes are stacked beyond this, the goods defrost.
  • Is minced meat freshly prepared? Ask the butcher when the minced meat was turned through the meat grinder. It is even better if you can watch.

Once bought, you have to take care of the best possible storage for the meat: the meat should be bought as soon as possible before consumption. Then you bring it home quickly to only briefly interrupt the cold chain. And for your own freezer and refrigerator, you should keep the temperatures recommended by the BfR.

If meat starts to smell, looks strange, feels different than usual or tastes strange – then it shouldn’t be eaten either.

Because not all pathogens change the meat noticeably for humans, you can still get infected – in most cases, there is a risk of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. But the risk can be minimized with a little caution. The experts recommend that meat be cooked well through in any case.


How long can ground beef stay in the fridge?

How long does cooked ground beef last in the fridge?

How long does ground beef last in the freezer?

According to FDA, when refrigerated, keep the ground beef at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and consume it within 1 or 2 days. To store the ground beef for longer times, wrap in heavy duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or plastic bags made to freeze food. Ground beef  lasts good 3 to 4 months in the freezer when it is stored at 0°F or colder but it will lose quality over the time. It is best to consume ground beef within 4 months.


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