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How To Tell if Meat is Spoiled

It can be tricky to determine whether meat has gone bad. Spoiled meat can cause serious illness, so learn to discern between meat that is good and meat that is spoiled.


  • TIP: Freezer burn can result in dryness of cooked meat, nutrient loss, and bitter flavor.
  • Step 1: Avoid storing your meat next to foods such as apples and onions, which give off strong odors. The meat can absorb flavors from these and other similar foods, giving the meat an odd flavor.
  • FACT: Dehydration is the most common complication of food poisoning.
  • Step 2: Be aware of protein denaturation caused by heat, salts, ultraviolet light, low pH, and surface dehydration, which is evidenced in brown or gray discoloration.
  • Step 3: Look for improperly wrapped meat, which can cause the oxidation of meat fats, resulting in a rancid flavor and odor.
  • Step 4: Look for the formation of slime, a foul odor, a rancid taste, and gray, brown, or green color. These indicate spoilage due to bacteria and yeast.
  • Step 5: Be aware of a sticky surface on the meat and of "fur." These are indications of mold spoilage. Also, a creamy-looking surface and discolorations, such as black or green, denote the presence of mold colonies.
  • Step 6: Be aware of potential anaerobic bacterial spoilage of the interior of the meat, vacuum packed products, and sealed containers. These are indicated by tainting and souring of the meat.
  • Step 7: Be aware of the smell of ammonia or sulfur and a chalky taste. This indicates the degradation of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates due to bacteria and enzymes naturally present in the meat.

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