Warning Signs Your Ground Beef Has Gone Bad

From burgers to meatloaf to casseroles to meat sauces to chili, ground beef is a diverse medium for the utility chef. You can do lots with it, but the first step is telling whether the meat you have is ready to eat or spoiled rotten.

According to Healthline, there are a few ways to tell whether or not your ground beef has gone bad. Fresh raw product is a familiarly bright red-pinkish color, but ground beef's interior can appear grayish-brown. This discoloration is just due to its lack of contact with oxygen, so the meat should still be okay to eat. However, if the outside is beginning to turn grayish-brown or you see mold on it, it's definitely time to get rid of that meat.

If your ground beef is slimy in texture either before or after cooking, it has gone off and should not be consumed. If it has a rancid sour smell, make sure to wrap it in as many plastic bags as you can find and dispose of that putrid mess with extreme prejudice. Finally — and most obviously — if it is past the labeled expiration date, throw it out.

If any of these dubious signs are a bit ambiguous and you can't tell for sure, remember this: when in doubt, throw it out.

How to prevent ground beef from spoiling

To make sure that your ground beef does not go bad, the rule of thumb is to either cook or freeze it the day you buy it. Any amount of time at room temperature is just asking for spoiled meat, so have a plan and act quickly. Per The Spruce Eats, you can even prep the ground meat with seasonings, and then freeze it for later. To thaw, just run the package holding the prepared beef under cold water.

The Food Network has tips for how to pick the freshest ground beef. Choose bright pink meat with not too much runoff liquids in the packaging, and make sure to check that packing/sell-by/expiration date. While bringing ground beef home, make sure to keep it as cool as possible, and to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as possible.

Finally, while buying, preparing, cooking, and serving your ground beef, be sure to trust your gut. And trust all your other senses before your gut, before it's too late.