Undercooked, tainted with raw meat juice, or kept out at room temperature for a long time, bad ground beef can pick up pernicious bacteria. These bacteria are not destroyed by stomach acid, which is very strong, and they will continue to grow exponentially inside of a human being.
Despite the fact that most people’s immune systems will eliminate these pathogens from their bodies with little to no long-term consequences, the process frequently results in the unpleasant symptoms of ground beef food poisoning.
How to tell if your ground beef’s gone bad
Ground beef has a unique place in the vast universe of foods to eat.
Basically, because we eat a lot of it. In fact, data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that in 2020, the world ate more than 130 billion pounds of beef. In the United States, ground beef makes up more than half of the beef consumed in the country. In 2017, for instance, Americans ate, on average, a whopping 54.5 pounds of ground beef in dishes like burgers, tacos, meatballs, chili and other tasty meals.
But at the same time, because of its very nature, it poses serious health risks. More surface area is produced when beef is ground, which means there are more places for microorganisms to hide. Because of this, ground beef has a shorter shelf life than steaks or other larger cuts of meat.
“Ground beef is a particular concern,” notes Dr. Because its spoilage isn’t always as obvious as that of other products, says Craggs-Dino You will likely think, “Oh, I’m not eating that,” when you see something with fuzzy mold sprouting on it. ’ But ground beef can be a little trickier. It might actually be rotting and you wouldn’t even know it. ”.
Two types of microorganisms can take up residency in ground beef. The first kind, spoilage bacteria, can cause the meat to lose quality and develop a bad odor and taste, but they generally aren’t harmful to eat. Pathogenic bacteria, on the other hand, can’t be seen or smelled, but they are dangerous and can lead to food poisoning.
To further complicate matters, if spoilage bacteria are present, their pathogenic friends will probably follow closely behind. Therefore, even though spoilage bacteria won’t give you a cold, their presence indicates that dishonest characters like E coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter are there as well.
Luckily, there are often signs that spoilage has occurred. When inspecting a package of ground meat, bear the following in mind:
“Outside, ground beef should look nice and pink,” says Dr. Craggs-Dino. It’s also acceptable when the interior appears a little brown at times. However, if it begins to turn a little funky gray, either inside or outside, you can tell that something isn’t quite right. Your food could already be spoiled by that point. ”.
“There’s a problem if you open the package and the meat feels or looks slimy,” says Dr. Craggs-Dino. Fresh ground beef ought to feel slightly crumbly and firm to the touch. It’s not as good, though, if it’s sticky and appears to be wet. I know it sounds kind of gross. But hopefully someone would notice that and be put off by it. ”.
The smell of fresh ground beef is barely noticeable. But if the meat has gone bad, it’s a different story, claims Dr Craggs-Dino. “You open the package and it just doesn’t smell right. A sign of spoiled meat is if it smells rancid, tangy, or just plain putrid. ”.
Another crucial indicator of the safety of your meat is the printed expiration date on the label. The expiration date, also known as the “best before” date, indicates when food is likely to start going bad. The guidance here is simple. “Don’t eat food past the expiration date,” advises Dr. Craggs-Dino. “Freeze it if you won’t be able to use it by that date.” For roughly four months, your ground beef will remain fresh in the freezer. ”.
She also advises to distinguish between the sell-by date and the expiration date. “Look, we can keep this meat on the shelf until this day, according to the sell-by date, which is a guideline for the retailer. You can still eat ground beef for two days after the sell-by date if you buy it, bring it home, and put it right into the refrigerator. However, if you continue past that, you put yourself in danger. ”.
What happens if I eat it, anyway?
And food poisoning is no joke, stresses Dr. Craggs-Dino.
She asserts that “all of us have probably experienced a mild case of food poisoning at some point in our lives.” You know, after dining out and enjoying a delicious meal, you return home and your stomach begins to growl. You then experience gas, and an hour later you experience diarrhea. That’s a type of foodborne illness. ”.
Unfortunately, not all cases are that mild. “Foodborne illnesses can transition into something really dangerous,” she cautions. “If you are beginning to throw up or have a fever, those are signs of a serious infection,” At that point, I advise you to visit the ER because this could turn into a life-threatening condition. ”.
Foodborne illnesses can have serious consequences for people of all ages, but are especially dangerous for children under the age of 5, people over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. If food poisoning is suspected, they should always visit a doctor.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious long-term effects of foodborne illness can include:
- An inflammation of the linings that protect your brain and spinal cord is known as meningitis.
- Kidney damage.
- Kidney failure.
- Brain and nerve damage.
After recovering from a foodborne illness, these health issues can persist for weeks or months in some people. For others, they never go away.
When in doubt, discard it, as the wise man who went unnamed once said. ” It’s not worth the risk of illness.
How to safely store and handle ground beef
You bought the ground beef. Now what do you do with it?.
When it comes to safe food handling, the USDA offers these guidelines:
- Cleanliness prevents illness. When handling food, handling pets, using the restroom, changing a diaper, or blowing your nose, wash your hands frequently in warm, soapy water. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly clean any cutting boards and countertops that have come into contact with raw meat. “It’s all about cleanliness, hygiene and disinfection,” Dr. Craggs-Dino reiterates.
- Keep foods apart to avoid cross-contamination. She continues, “We can easily spread spoilage microorganisms from one thing to another.” “So you have to make sure you keep foods apart. Using separate cutting boards for various foods, such as one for fruits and vegetables and one for meats, is one way to achieve this. If you only use one cutting board, make sure to clean it after each use.
- Take your food’s temperature. Heat kills bacteria and helps prevent foodborne illness. The minimum safe internal temperature for ground beef is 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 1 degrees Celsius). Use a thermometer to determine when your burger will be ready, advises Dr Craggs-Dino. “You can’t eyeball it, especially if it’s on a grill. It appears to be beautiful on the outside, but when you bite into it, you discover that it is still bleeding. ”.
- Keep foods chilled. Make sure to promptly refrigerate your ground beef because most harmful bacteria cannot grow in cold temperatures. (Be sure to maintain your refrigerator’s temperature below 40 F.) 44 C. Keep your refrigerator clean while you’re at it! Don’t leave your ground beef sitting on the counter or in a hot car. Food can become contaminated with microbes in two hours if left out at room temperature, warns Dr. Craggs-Dino. Don’t overlook the benefits of freezing, either. “Freeze the ground beef if you’re not going to cook it today.” That will increase its lifespan and give you lots of flexibility when using it up. Dr. Oz advises thawing frozen meat in the refrigerator when the time comes. Craggs-Dino. “Defrosting on the countertop would not be good. ”.
Important hints about whether your ground meat has gone bad or is still safe to eat can be found in its color, texture, smell, and expiration date. Additionally, discard any ground beef you are unsure of its quality or freshness because keeping it could result in food poisoning.
But in the interim, following these four guidelines will help your ground beef stay as healthy and fresh as possible:
- Keep your hands and equipment clean.
- Avoid cross-contamination.
- The internal temperature of your ground beef should be 160 F/71 1 C (and use a meat thermometer to be sure).
- Keep ground beef refrigerated at below 40 F/4. 44 C until you’re ready to cook it.
Now light the grill, wash your hands, and listen to the sizzle of the hamburgers.
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How long after eating bad ground beef do you get sick?
When Do Symptoms Start? When Symptoms BeginSymptoms30 minutes to 8 hoursVomiting, stomach cramps, diarrheaWithin 24 hoursWatery diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, and chills6 to 24 hoursDiarrhea, stomach cramps that last for less than 24 hours—vomiting and fever are uncommon.
What should I do if I ate bad ground beef?
If you realize you ate bad beef but don’t feel sick right away, don’t keep eating the meat under the impression that you won’t feel sick. Get rid of it and disinfect, soap, and water any surfaces it came in contact with.
Is it safe to eat slightly spoiled beef?
Steaks kept in the refrigerator for a few days might oxidize naturally and turn brown. But if the steak also smells unpleasant, is slimy to the touch, and has passed its expiration date, it shouldn’t be consumed.
Can you taste if ground beef is bad?
Pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria are two types of bacteria that may have an impact on ground beef. Though generally not harmful, spoilage bacteria reduce the quality of food. This may cause unpleasant odors or taste.