how many days can ground beef stay in the fridge

A package of ground beef can stay in the fridge for up to two days from the date of purchase, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By day two, it’s best to either cook the ground beef or freeze it. Freezing ground beef is a great long-term solution, as it can last in the freezer for months.

Ground beef may be your kitchen burger staple, but how do you tell your ground beef has gone bad? Changes to color, texture, and smell, along with the expiration date can offer clues.

Ground beef is commonly used to make burgers, meatballs, and sausage, as well as tacos, lasagna, and savory pies. It accounts for about 62% of all beef sold in the United States.

However, since grinding the meat exposes more of its surface to air, spoilage organisms have more space to attach to it. Thus, it goes bad faster than steak or other larger cuts.

Spoilage and pathogenic bacteria may both affect ground beef. These bacteria are generally not harmful but cause food to lose quality and develop a bad odor and taste.

On the other hand, pathogenic bacteria are dangerous, as they can lead to food poisoning. Furthermore, spoilage makes it more likely for them to be present in your food. Therefore, even though spoilage bacteria won’t make you sick, you should always discard spoiled ground beef to avoid consuming disease-causing microorganisms.

Ground beef may change color due to multiple factors, including temperature, light, microbial growth, and exposure to oxygen.

Fresh, raw ground beef should be red due to its levels of oxymyoglobin — a pigment formed when a protein called myoglobin reacts with oxygen.

The interior of raw ground meat may be greyish brown due to a lack of exposure to oxygen. This doesn’t indicate spoilage.

Nevertheless, you should throw away ground beef if it has turned either brown or gray on the outside, as this indicates that it’s beginning to rot.

Additionally, mold can spoil cooked ground beef, so you should toss your leftovers if you notice any fuzzy blue, grey, or green spots.

Another way to check your ground beef is by conducting a touch test. Fresh ground beef should have a relatively firm consistency that breaks apart when you squeeze it.

However, a sticky or slimy texture — either when cooked or raw — may indicate the presence of spoilage bacteria. You should toss it immediately.

To avoid spreading bacteria from one surface to another, wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.

This test is probably the easiest and fastest way to determine whether meat has spoiled. It applies to both raw and cooked ground beef.

Though the scent of fresh ground beef is barely perceptible, rancid meat has a tangy, putrid odor. Once it goes bad, it’s no longer safe to eat.

The scent changes due to the increased growth of spoilage bacteria, such as Lactobacillus spp. and Pseudomonas spp., which may also affect the flavor.

If you don’t notice a funny scent but still see signs of spoilage in color or texture, it’s still safest to throw it away, as pathogenic bacteria cannot be smelled.

A sell-by date tells the retailer how long a product can be displayed for sale. Ground beef can be refrigerated and safely eaten up to 2 days past this date.

Meanwhile, the expiration date — also labeled as “best before” — tells you when the product will likely start going bad. Food will have the best taste and quality before this date.

You shouldn’t eat ground beef past its expiration date unless it’s been frozen, which can last up to 4 months.

Spoiled ground beef is dangerous to eat because it may contain pathogenic bacteria, which are responsible for foodborne illnesses. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea — which may be bloody.

Disease-causing microorganisms grow rapidly in food that’s been left at room temperature and are more likely to occur in spoiled food.

The most common harmful bacteria in ground beef are Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Outbreaks of infections related to these bacteria occur fairly frequently in the United States. It may take several days for symptoms to appear.

To destroy these bacteria and reduce your risk of food poisoning, cook ground beef thoroughly and use a meat thermometer to verify that its internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C).

Proper handling and storing are key to avoiding food poisoning from ground beef. Here are a few safety tips:

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling ground beef, and don’t forget to your clean kitchen counters and utensils.

Can ground beef smell a little but not expired?

All ground beef has a slight aroma of iron. Ground beef nearing its expiration date may have a slightly more noticeable smell but is still safe to eat. However, if a product has a noticeable, pungent smell, it is most likely spoiled and should be discarded.

What will bad ground beef smell like?

Spoiled ground beef will have a pungent, putrid smell. Ground beef that is safe to eat typically has little to no perceptible smell.

But if the ground beef is gray or brown on the outside surface of the meat, people should discard it. This discoloration suggests that it has started to go bad.

People can also check the texture to see if meat is bad. Ground beef that is fine to consume should have a relatively firm consistency that breaks apart when a person squeezes it.

In order to avoid foodborne illnesses, people should follow the four guidelines laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service:

As long as a person correctly and safely stores their meat, they do not necessarily need to discard any products past their “best before” date. It is safe for people to consume refrigerated ground beef up to 2 days past this date. If freezing, it is advisable to eat ground beef within 4 months.

People should be cautious if they suspect that ground beef may be bad. By consuming potentially spoiled meat, people run the risk of developing food poisoning.

A package of ground beef can stay in the fridge for up to two days from the date of purchase, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By day two, it’s best to either cook the ground beef or freeze it. Freezing ground beef is a great long-term solution, as it can last in the freezer for months.

FAQ

Can I eat ground beef after 5 days in fridge?

It is safe to store ground beef in the refrigerator for 1–2 days, and eat leftovers within 4 days. A person can store ground beef in the freezer for up to 4 months. When cooking ground beef, the minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer is 160°F (71°C).

How long can you leave raw ground beef in the fridge?

The refrigerator and freezer are definitely your friends when storing the ground beef you purchase. When you’re preparing to use your ground beef after freezing, make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Raw meat can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days and kept frozen up to four months.

Is 4 day old ground beef safe?

You really only have about two days to use ground beef before it starts to spoil, according to the USDA. To reduce the chances of eating bacteria-laden beef, choose carefully next time you’re at the grocery store. Look for bright red beef that’s not sitting in a pool of excess liquid at the bottom of the package.

How do you know if ground beef has gone bad?

To determine if your ground beef if spoiled, use your senses. Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Smell and visually examine at your ground beef, and if it’s brown or an off odor, those could be signs that your ground beef is spoiled.

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