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How to tell if steak is bad

Knowing how to tell if steak is bad is crucial to prevent getting foodborne illnesses such as food poisonings or E.coli. There are a few simple ways to tell if your steak is spoiled or not.

Knowing how it should look, smell, and feel will ensure that your steak is fresh and safe to eat. Following along and I will get into each one of those more thoroughly.

3 bone in steaks on a parchment paper

How to tell if steak is bad is easy to tell by looking at it, smelling it, and feeling it. Looking at the expiration date is one of the first things to look at.

Fresh steak will be red in color, wet to the touch but not slimy and no bad odor.

4 ways to tell if raw steak is bad

It is important to know whether or not your steak is good before you start to prepare it. Steak that has gone bad can make you really sick.

All kinds of bacteria grow on meat when it starts to spoil like E.coli and salmonella. You can prevent yourself from getting food poisoning by being aware of how fresh your steak is.

I am going to break it down into 5 simple indicators of spoiled steak. You need to use your senses and look at it, feel, and, smell it before you start to prepare it.

1. Check the date

Most meats will have a sell-by and a use-by date on the package. It is important to know the difference.

Sell-by dates are dates that manufacturers put on the meat as a recommended date that stores should sell the meat in order to guarantee freshness. The further out the date from when you buy it the fresher it will be.

Use-by dates are suggested dates that you should cook the steak before it is no longer going to be good. This is an estimate so I recommended using it as soon as you can or freezing it.

2. Look at the steak

When you open the package you want to take a good look at the steak to see if you notice any mold growing or discolored to a brownish-grey on it. These are signs of spoiled steak.

Also if the steak looks really dry or shriveled up it is no longer good to eat and you should dispose of it.

3. Smell it

So you have checked the date and looked it over and it all looks good so far, that’s great, but you want to make sure it doesn’t have a rancid smell to it.

Meat that is bad will no longer have that fresh smell to it. It will have an ammonia-type smell. Don’t worry you will know when you smell it if you think it is ok or not.

4. Is it slimy?

Fresh steak will be wet but it should not be slippery or slimy. If it is shiny or slimy you do not want to mess with it.

Unfortunately, you should dispose of it. What a waste, I know but trust me you won’t want to get sick from eating it.

How to tell if cooked steak is bad

There are many commonalities between fresh and cook steak that has spoiled. Cooked steak that has been properly stored in the fridge should last you 3-4 days.

It is important to know all of this before you reheat steak or before you reheat prime rib.

The refrigerator doesn’t stop the growth of bacteria and fungus but it does slow it down. It is important to be aware of how long it has been in the fridge and if it was properly stored.

The first thing you will most likely notice is the rancid smell of ammonia or mold when you uncover refrigerated steak. This will not be questionable.

Second, if your cooked steak has gone bad it will feel sticky or slimy. Also if it is dried out you don’t want to bother reheating it and eating it.

The third indicator of bad steak that has been cooked is the color. If you see that it has a grey hue to it or if you see any signs of mold growth, toss it!

Frequently asked questions about how to tell if steak is bad

Fresh steak is typically a vibrant red or purplish color. If it’s turning brown or gray, it may be starting to spoil. However, color changes can also be due to oxidation, so it’s important to check for other signs of spoilage too.

A brown color isn’t necessarily a sign that steak is spoiled, as it can simply indicate that the steak has been exposed to air (oxidation). However, if the steak is brown along with other signs of spoilage, like a bad smell or slimy texture, don’t consume it.

No, cooking spoiled steak does not make it safe to eat. While heat can kill bacteria, it won’t remove the toxins some bacteria produce when the steak spoils. If you suspect your steak is spoiled, it’s best to avoid eating it.


Being able to spot spoiled steak is crucial not only for enjoying your meals but also for your overall well-being.

Always remember to check the color, feel the texture, and trust your nose to determine if your steak is still good to eat. When there’s any doubt about its freshness, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard the steak.

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