How to tell if my Steak is Bad? {5 Easy Signs}

No one likes spoiled meat, but bad steak is the worst. However, determining whether the cut of steak that you have is bad can be tricky. Even if you store your steak cuts in the freezer, your steak can still spoil overtime. So how do you tell if steak is bad or has spoiled?

Below we have broken down the key signs of spoilage so that you’ll be able to determine if your steak (whether it is raw steak, cooked steak, and frozen steak) is bad.

How to tell if steak is bad

What happens if you eat bad steak?

If you eat bad steak (or any kind of beef), you may end up with food poisoning. If you do, you may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Thankfully, in most cases, eating bad steak will not cause any long-term health problems. These symptoms are typically short-lived and resolve within a day or two. 

However, in some cases, eating bad steak can lead to a serious food poisoning spell that can put you in the hospital. Symptoms of bad food poisoning can include fever, chills, upset stomach, and/or abdominal pain. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

5 Signs that your Steak is Bad or has Spoiled

1) Out of date 

If the expiration date has passed, you should throw away the steak. Remember to review and abide by the use-by-date that is on the package.  If your are past the sell-by date, but before the use-by-date, your steak is probably fine to eat.

2) Slimy 

If you have a slimy steak, that means that mold or bacteria has built up on the steak. In fact, if you leave a slimy steak out in a room-temperature room, it will start to grow mold after a few days. Thankfully, a simple touch test is all that is needed to tell if the steak has spoiled. If the steak feels like it is coated in slime or a sticky texture, it is bad and you should discard it.

3) Discolored 

If the steak has any discoloration –brown, yellow, gray, or green, it is bad and you should discard it. Fresh steak tends to have a bright cherry red color, due to the myoglobin in the steak. Myoglobin is what turns beef red after about 30 mins of exposure to oxygen. Please not, if you have a blue steak, your steak might be a purplish red color that is totally fine.

4) Smells Bad 

This bad odor can be for a variety of reasons. If the steak is super pungent or smells strongly of ammonia, it is probably bad. Note: dry-aged steaks may smell like cheese due to lactic acid released during the aging process, but this does not mean that they are necessarily bad.

5) Dry 

If your steak is dry, shriveled and dehydrated, chances are is that the steak is bad. Dryness is one sign of bad quality in beef. Note: This does not apply to dry aged steak — a controlled aging process that helps develop a richer flavor and texture.

How to tell if a raw steak is bad (before cooking)?

If you are not sure how your steak is supposed to smell, ask your butcher or grocery store manager. They can help you identify the fresh smell of raw steak. 

When testing for a bad smell, be sure to sniff the steak from a few inches away. If the smells overpowers your senses, it is probably bad and you should discard it. 

What should raw steak smell like? 

Raw steak should smell fresh and slightly beefy. If your steak smells sour, fishy, or moldy, it is bad and you should discard it. 

How to tell if a raw steak has a bad smell?

If you are not sure how your steak is supposed to smell, ask your butcher or grocery store manager. They can help you identify the fresh smell of raw steak. 

When testing for a bad smell, be sure to sniff the steak from a few inches away. If the smells overpowers your senses, it is probably bad and you

How to tell if steak is bad after cooking?

Another way to test for a bad smell is to simply cook the steak. If it smells bad while it is cooking, it is probably bad and you should discard it. 

What does cooked steak that has gone bad taste like?

Spoiled steak will taste rancid, sour, or bitter. If you notice any of these flavors, throw the steak away.

How long does cooked steak last in the fridge?

 According to the USDA, cooked  steak can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

How to tell if steak has gone bad after freezing?

If your frozen steak has any discoloration (brown, gray, or green), it is bad and you should discard it. In addition, if your steak smells sour, fishy, or moldy, it is also bad and you should discard it. Finally, if your  steak is dry or has freezer burn, it is still safe to eat but will not be as high quality. 

How long does frozen steak last?

Frozen steak can last 6-12 months in the freezer. However, the quality and the flavor of the steak will decline the longer it is frozen. 

According to the USDA, “raw meat and poultry maintain their quality longer than their cooked counterparts because moisture is lost during cooking.”

Can you cook frozen steak that has gone bad?

No, you should NOT cook a frozen steak that has gone bad. Do NOT do this!

Cooking your spoiled frozen meat will not kill any bacteria, salmonella, toxins, or other contaminants that may be present in the meat. 

Best way to store Steak – How to best delay your steak from going bad

The best way to store steak is in the fridge. Raw steak can last 3-5 days in the fridge, while cooked  steak can last 3-4 days. If you need to store your steak for longer than this, you can freeze it (just remember to thaw it before cooking it). 

When storing steak in the fridge, be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a vacuum-sealed bag (a vacuum sealer is need for this last approach). This will help to prevent has much air as possible from hitting the steak, helping to prevent the steak from drying out. 

By now you should be well-versed on how to determine if a steak is still good or not. Not satisfied? Keep learning about steak below!

Increase your Steak Knowledge:

Looking to learn more about different steak cuts?

How to tell if steak is bad

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