When you go to the grocery store, you’ll see a variety of ground beef packages with different dates on them. So, what’s the deal? How long is ground beef good for after the sell-by date? And more importantly, is it still safe to eat?
The answer is that we don’t recommend using ground beef if it’s past the sell-by date. However, in most cases, if you see no visible signs of spoilage in your ground beef, it’s safe to consume it within 1 to 3 days after the sell-by date.
Moreover, if you don’t plan to use ground beef anytime soon, it’s always recommended to freeze it immediately to increase its shelf life.
Wait! But what are the signs of spoilage in your ground beef to watch out for? We’ve developed our 3-step guide to check how long ground beef is good after the sell-by date.
Now let’s dig in!
How Long Ground Beef Is Good After Sell by Date
Many of us have probably wondered how long ground beef is good after the sell-by date. After all, no one wants to eat spoiled meat!
While it’s easy to assume that the sell-by date is a hard and fast expiration date, that’s not necessarily the case. In most instances, you can still safely eat ground beef 1-3 days after the sell-by date, as long as there are no visible signs of spoilage.
So, next time you’re unsure whether your ground beef is still good, be sure to give it a quick visual inspection before cooking. And if in doubt, err on the side of caution and toss it out. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry! This guide is below:
How to Know if the Ground Beef Is Good After Sell by Date (3-step Guide)
You have already gone through how long the ground beef remains good after expiration. Here is a complete guide to checking the ground beef for spoilage.
1. Check the Color
Certain factors determine the color of ground beef, like air, temperature, light, and bacterial growth.
Ground beef must be red because of high oxymyoglobin levels. It’s a red pigment that develops when oxygen in the air reacts with myoglobin, a protein found in the meat.
If you notice any gray hue on the exterior, it might be a sign of lousy beef which you can further confirm following steps 2 and 3. However, a slightly grayish hue on the interior doesn’t indicate spoilage.
Moreover, you must never consume ground beef that has turned gray, greenish-brown, or brown from the exterior as it indicates bacterial invasion.
Also, keep an eye for any furry textured blue, green, or gray spots that suggest the ground beef is spoiled with mold.
2. Observe the Texture
The texture of ground beef tells a lot about whether it’s good to use even after the sell-by date. The easiest way to perform the texture observation, fill some ground beef into your palm and check if it breaks apart smoothly upon squeezing.
The texture of good ground beef must be firm. However, watch out if you notice any slimy, sticky, or watery texture as it confirms the meat has gone bad.
You can perform this test on raw or cooked ground beef to check for expiration.
Note: While directly contacting the raw meat, it’s recommended to wash your hands thoroughly to avoid the spread of bacteria from one surface to another. Also, try to keep the fresh vegetables and foods away from raw meat to prevent any transfer of bacteria from meat to other foods.
3. Smell the Ground Beef
The smell test is the quickest way to determine if the ground beef is good after the sell-by date.
Watch out if you experience any foul smell from the ground beef. Typically, any acidic, rancid, or rotten egg-like smell indicates spoiled meat.
The pungent smell shows that bacteria quickly decompose the meat and release the gas. It’s always recommended never to consume the ground beef if it smells off.
Note: It’s important to note whether your ground beef is handled at the right temperature to minimize spoilage. For instance, 33°F is the optimum temperature to refrigerate any meat. If your refrigerator is not set to the right temperature, your meat will go bad soon.
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What Are the Side Effects of Eating Bad Beef? (Diarrhea, Painful Stomach Cramps, and More!)
Eating spoiled beef is toxic and life-threatening for humans because it contains pathogenic bacteria responsible for foodborne diseases. Many parasitic bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli rapidly reproduce on rotten meat.
You’d be surprised to know infections caused by these bacteria are relatively common in the United States.
So, even if you thoroughly cook the spoiled meat to kill the pathogenic bacteria, the residual toxins and microbial spores would still be present in the meat whatsoever.
Eating rotten ground beef can potentially cause food poisoning symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe stomach cramps. However, It can take a few minutes to several days for the symptoms to appear.
These symptoms might not sound lethal to many, but people with compromised immune systems like children, elderly, pregnant women, etc., are more at the risk of getting infected. In severe cases, food poisoning can also cause death.
On the safer side, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F to kill any bacteria. You should never consume raw or spoiled meat due to the associated risk of food poisoning.
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Since ground beef is highly perishable due to multiple tiny pieces that have a greater tendency to get decomposed by the bacteria compared to whole beef, it is recommended to check it for signs of spoilage.
Our 3 step guide focuses on color, texture, and smell tests to ensure ground beef is safe to use after the sell-by date.
Eating the ground beef that has turned bad is not a good idea as it can potentially cause food poisoning and can negatively impact your gut health.
Last but not least, always discard the ground beef if you notice any foul smell, sliminess, or change of color from red to brown and gray.