How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled

By Max. D Gray. Updated: February 20, 2017
How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled

Food-transmitted diseases such as E-coli or salmonella are responsible for millions of cases of intoxication every year. The majority of these cases are the result of eating meat that has gone bad. It's fundamental to store meat correctly, as the possibility of getting ill due to food-transmitted diseases increase substantially the older the meat is.

Knowing how to tell if meat is spoiled can help you prevent experimenting the awful effects of food poisoning. Stay with us at oneHOWTO and we'll share our best tips.

You may also be interested in: How to Tell if Chicken has Gone Bad
Steps to follow:

Before buying any kind of meat, check the selling or expiry date on the package. If the meat has passed its expiry date, do not buy it, it doesn't matter how low the price may be. If the package doesn't have an expiry date, batch and date of packaging, don't buy it for safety reasons. The best you can do is to choose completely fresh meat instead.

How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled - Step 1

Take a look at the color of the meat, as this is one of the main elements that will alert you if the meat is spoiled or not. It doesn't need to have passed its expiry date for it to go bad, but color alone doesn't mean it's gone bad either.

Take these indications into account while keeping the rest of our advice in mind:

  • Free-range poultry meat can have from a blueish-white color to yellow.
  • In perfect conditions, raw pork is a pink-grayish color.
  • Most people associate fresh minced meat with a bright red color. However, this red color is not fresh meat's natural color, but it is produced due to the exposition of meat to air. If the minced meat was vacuum packaged and is kept away from oxygen, its color should be purply-red. Contrary to popular belief, the fact that minced meat has gone brown does not mean it's gone bad. Grown animal meat will be darker than that of young animals. Moreover, sometimes the lighting in the shop can cause a reaction in the color of meat, giving it a brown-reddish color.
How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled - Step 2

Smell the meat. This is probably the easiest way to know if meat is spoiled or still good. Whatever the type of meat, if it smells off and horrible, it's not good to eat.

You can find minced meat in the shops that may look fresh, but has a slight smell. This could mean that the meat has started to go bad, or carbon monoxide has been used during its packaging to maintain its red color even after it's gone bad. In any case, you shouldn't take the risk.

Free-range poultry meat has a more distinctive smell when it goes bad - a putrid smell that should stop you from eating it, even if you have a stomach made of steel.

How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled - Step 3

Take your time to take a closer look at the meat. Meat gone bad can usually have a slimy texture, which is a sign that bacteria have started to multiply on its surface. When meat is spoiled, especially if it's poultry, it can also be sticky. If you see any kind of strange element on the meat or if it has black or green areas, it means fungus have started to grow.


To prevent meat going bad and losing its original nutritional properties, it will be necessary to take security measures so the meat maintains its properties and is stored in a perfect state.

How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled - Step 5

If you've checked the meat is in good state and that you can eat it without risks, you can make incredible meatballs, cook the meat or have a barbecue with friends.

However, if you are presented with cooked meat and want to know if it's spoiled you should look for slimy chunks of meat too: this is your best indicator that the meat you are eating is bad. Cut the meat to take a look at the inside to check for funny spots as you would with uncooked meat.

Now that you know how to detect it, take a look at what happens if you eat meat that has gone bad.

How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled - Step 6

If you want to know if other types of food are spoiled, at oneHOWTO we have plenty of articles that will help you:

If you want to read similar articles to How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled, we recommend you visit our Food & drink category.

  • Leaving the meat in a freezer for too long will not spoil the product, but will alter its color and will get rid of the meat's nutrients. Cooking frozen meat can usually give it a sour and dry taste.
  • Undercooked meat can cause the same dangers in human beings as meat gone bad, no matter how fresh it may be. Cook your meat well to reduce probabilities of getting food poisoning to a minimum.
  • Don't trust the expiry date in the shop where you've bought the meat as an indicator of how fresh it is, as dates are easy to change. Use your senses (including common sense) to decide if meat is fresh or it's gone bad.

Write a comment about How To Tell If Meat Is Spoiled

What did you think of this article?
I bought fresh gammon joint Saturday cooked the same day its been in in the fridge wrapped is it safe to eat.
OneHowTo Editor
Hi Maria,

The general guidelines are about 3 - 4 days for cooked uncured meat in the refrigerator. However, we can't say for sure, so our best advice is to follow the guide in the article.
Catherine nichols
I have a conversion compartment in my refrigerator that freezes foods. Is it safe to store meats in there? Meat feels, smells and looks ok but is it safe to eat?
Alba Charles (oneHOWTO editor)
Hi Catherine, this article about how to store food in the fridge might be useful to you:
When storing meat in the freezing compartiment, remember to place it in freezer bags to maintain quality and avoid contamination. Meat in the fridge can last only for some days but if it's frozen you can keep it for longer. Just make sure that the compartment really works as a freezer. If you want to keep it for longer it might be better that you store it directly in the freezer.
Have cleaned a goat and kept it inda chilly bean and have taken it after 24 hour it has bit of foul smell.....have refrigerated it to tell or decide is it good
OneHowTo Editor
Smell is a good indicator, if it is also slimy, throw it away

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