Here’s How to Tell If Your Ground Beef Is Past Its Prime

First things first: If you see gray, don’t toss it right away.



If you’ve stared at that package of raw ground beef in your fridge and wondered if you left it too long, you’re not alone. Meat, whether chicken, beef, or pork, is one thing you don’t want to consume when it has gone off: Even when cooked, there is the potential that it could cause food poisoning. You also don’t want to misinterpret the signs and throw out meat that’s perfectly fresh, thus wasting money and upending your dinner plans. So how do you know if ground beef is spoiled or safe to eat? And what does that gray color really mean? Read on to have all your ground beef questions answered once and for all.

How to Tell if Raw Ground Beef Has Gone Bad

First things first: If you see gray, don’t toss it right away. Beef gets its red color from exposure to air. This means that the exterior of the ground beef might be red while the center (the part not yet exposed to air) will still be gray. This beef is fresh and perfectly safe to eat. When the entire package of beef is gray inside and out, it’s time to look for other indicators of spoilage.

The next (and easiest) way to tell if ground beef has gone bad is by the smell and texture. If it smells bad and has a too soft, slimy texture, it is spoiled and no longer safe to eat.

How to Tell if Cooked Ground Beef Has Gone Bad

Judging cooked ground beef is trickier as bad ground beef will have the same color as good ground beef. An unpleasant smell is still your best indicator here, though it’s best to discard bad ground beef before cooking.

Can You Eat Ground Beef Beyond the Sell-By Date?

A sell-by date is a suggestion by the supplier for the supermarket to display a product so that it looks its best. This doesn’t mean much to the customer in terms of spoilage: Many foods stay fresh well after their stickered date. For ground beef, it’s a good idea to cook within a couple days of the sell-by date. Otherwise, use your senses (how the beef smells and feels when touched) to tell if it has spoiled. If you’re shopping and want to ensure more freshness, look for the package with the most recent sell-by date.

How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

So how long will your ground beef stay fresh? According to the USDA, raw ground beef has a very short shelf life of just one to two days, though you can still use your senses to determine if it is safe to eat. Be sure to keep the package well-sealed in the coldest part of your fridge, usually the bottom drawer. Cooked ground beef will last in the fridge for three to four days.

How Long Does Ground Beef Stay Fresh in the Freezer?

The great news is that a sealed package of ground beef can last three to four months in your freezer. Wrap the sealed package in heavy duty foil or plastic wrap, or seal in a resealable freezer bag. This will help prevent freezer burn. Don’t forget to label and date it so you won’t wonder what it is later!

To thaw ground beef, refrigerate the sealed package overnight or submerge in a bowl of cold water and let sit for ten minutes. Thawed frozen beef should be cooked right away and not refrozen.

How to Cook with Ground Beef

When your package of ground beef is ready to cook, the possibilities are endless! Find our favorite recipes for any night of the week, including classics like burgers and meatballs. 

Read the original article on All Recipes.