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How to Tell if Ground Beef is bad

Ground beef is great to have on hand for so many meals like burgers, spaghetti, meatloaf and so much more. If you aren’t sure how to tell if ground beef is bad you are about to find out.

It is really simple. Using your senses will give you the answer between telling if ground beef is bad or not. Make sure that it doesn’t smell, isn’t slimy, and that it is nice and red.

how to tell if ground beef is bad

Best 3 ways to tell if ground beef is bad

Touching and smelling ground beef are good indicators of it being good or bad. Ground beef is pretty good at letting you know when it isn’t good anymore by its looks too. Brownish or grey ground beef is a no-go.

First and foremost, always start by checking the sell-by or use-by date on the package. If it is still in date then go ahead and check these next few things to be sure it’s safe to eat.

Make sure to also follow the “When in doubt, throw it out” rule. It isn’t worth the risk of getting food poisoning.

Ground beef is more susceptible to bacteria than steak because when it goes through the grinding process it gets exposed to so much. This is why it is important to make sure that it is good before cooking or serving it.

1. Smell the ground beef

Fresh ground beef that is still good won’t have much of a smell to it. However, if it has gone bad it will have a rancid smell. A sour or tangy scent is a good indicator that it has spoiled and should be thrown out.

Even if ground beef looks and feels okay, doesn’t always mean that it is safe to use. A rancid smell is a good enough sign on its own that bacteria has started growing in the beef and you could get sick.

This also applies to checking to see if cooked ground beef is still safe to eat or not. It should not have a tangy smell even after it has been cooked.

2. Feel the ground beef

When you touch ground beef it will be a little wet but should not be slimy in the least. Slimy ground beef should be thrown out and never consumed.

Ground beef should be firm and break apart easily in your hands. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly so that you do not spread bacteria and contaminate other surfaces.

3. The look of the ground beef

You want your ground beef to be red in color. When you see brown or dull grey then it has spoiled and no longer safe to cook or serve.

You may see some brown in the middle of prepackaged ground beef which can be normal. Oxygen can not get to the middle of the package and it will start to turn brown.

If only a little brown, it should still be ok but always check all three steps to make a decision whether your ground beef is bad or not.

How to know when ground beef is done

You always want to make sure that ground beef is cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit internally. When you are making patties sometimes the center is a little pink still which is okay as long as you check it with a thermometer.

Typically you want to cook it until it is browned and you no longer see any pink at all. This is because the process that it goes through when it is ground allows for more introduction to bacteria.

You want to make sure it is cooked to temperature. Check out my recipe on how to cook ground beef.

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