When Ground Beef Turns Brown?

Ground beef is a weeknight workhorse. You can make hamburger mac, a juicy burger, or ground beef bulgogi with a pound of ground beef. The short answer is, “maybe,” but what if you pull the ground beef out of the fridge or freezer and it’s already turned brown? Let us explain.

My Ground Beef is Turning Brown

When you reach into the freezer or refrigerator to take a package of hamburger out…

You might be wondering if browning ground beef indicates spoilage.

At your local meat market or quality grocer…

In display cases, fresh ground beef typically has a vibrant red color.

The color of ground beef changes after a brief period of storage in your refrigerator or freezer.

Sometimes people are so alarmed by ground beef turning brown that they waste otherwise good hamburger.

Simply because the color of a package of hamburger changed, they might discard it.

In the interest of saving families money.

The query, “Is ground beef okay if it turns brown?” will be addressed.

Why Does Ground Beef Turn Brown?

Thick cuts of beef have a purple-red hue toward the center before being ground into hamburger.

But as fresh cut beef is sliced and ground into hamburger, a naturally occurring protein called myoglobin comes into contact with oxygen.

Due to this interaction, the initially purplish beef temporarily turns cherry red, which attracts customers.

After the hamburger, or any cut of beef, is packaged, the amount of oxygen that comes into contact with the myoglobin is decreased by the packaging materials.

This results in ground beef turning brown.

Of course, scientific justifications for why your hamburger is no longer red don’t always allay people’s worries.

Why the ground beef turned brown after being properly chilled is something we frequently wonder about.

…and primarily is the hamburger safe to serve loved ones?

The answer is typically a resounding YES due to the natural process that occurs between oxygen and myoglobin!

See in this video how a completely natural process allows ground beef to turn brown in just a few hours.

Why Does Ground Beef Turn Brown in the Fridge?

An unpackaged pound of hamburger would stay red on the outside if you left it in the refrigerator for a few hours because it had been exposed to oxygen.

But because there was not enough oxygen, the center would begin to brown.

The same portion would begin to turn brown on the outside after being wrapped and put in the refrigerator.

The key is that normal temperature changes have no effect on the science of oxygen and myoglobin.

Like other perishable foods, hamburger lasts longer in a refrigerator than it does on a warm surface.

But unlike most others, its color composition changes when sealed.

Why Does Ground Beef Turn Brown in the Freezer?

Customers who purchase a half-cow, whole-cow, or other large meat bundle from Wild Country Meats receive frozen, vacuum-sealed ground beef.

We don’t use additives to artificially maintain color on our packaging.

Some people are shocked to discover that their frozen ground beef has turned brown.

According to conventional wisdom about freezers, as soon as an item is frozen solid, its freshness is preserved.

That holds true of hamburger as well, to some degree.

The relationship between myoglobin and oxygen explains the main distinction between beef and other foods in your freezer.

Due to the lack of oxygen in a vacuum-sealed package, shades of brown still appear on ground beef even after it has been frozen.

And that’s ok.

You need not worry if the hamburger has remained consistently frozen.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that frozen beef products remain safe to eat indefinitely.

As long as the ground beef was safe to eat before freezing, browning is not unusual.

Having said that, it is best to consume thick cuts of beef within a year and raw hamburger within a year.

Due to the fact that bacteria cannot contaminate food at below-freezing temperatures, freezing will keep the items usable.

How to Tell if Ground Beef Has Turned Bad

Although the natural process that changes the color of ground beef makes it generally safe to eat

When you see beef that is discolored, you should occasionally exercise caution.

As mentioned, when beef is deprived of oxygen, the interior color changes from purple to red to brown.

Therefore, whether ground beef is safe to eat or not cannot be determined by the color of the meat.

The following are some warning signs that the hamburger may be past its prime, though:

  • Appearance: Some expired or improperly packaged hamburger starts to turn a dull grayish color as it begins to deteriorate. Throw away the hamburger if it appears gray or has blue or green spots.
  • When hamburger begins to go bad, it develops a slimy or sticky texture. It’s not worth the risk of cooking and serving beef that has a film on it. After washing your hands, pick up a new hamburger package.
  • Smell: When meat goes bad, it usually has a funky odor. This sign is usually the last of the three indicators. That means you should definitely dispose of the ground beef.

It’s also very important to pay attention to the dates on the hamburger packaging.

It’s not uncommon for chain supermarkets to sell items that are on the verge of expiration and keep ground beef out past its sell-by date.

It’s important to remember that browning of ground beef during storage is a perfectly normal process.

However, it is better to be safe than sorry if it fails the other appearance, texture, or smell tests.

We here at Wild Country Meats hope that this explanation of why ground beef turns brown is helpful.

Is Hamburger Meat Spoiled When It Turns Grey or Brown Before Cooking? : Meat Preparation Tips


How can you tell if ground beef has gone bad?

Use your senses to determine whether the ground beef is spoiled. Touch the ground beef. If it’s slimy, that’s not normal. Look and smell at your ground beef; if it’s brown or has an unpleasant odor, that may indicate that it has gone bad.

Is ground beef okay if brown but smells fine?

The brown color doesn’t mean the meat spoiled. The meat should still be fine when cooked to a safe temperature as long as it hasn’t gone bad when it’s smelled, slimy, or sticky, and it otherwise smells and feels fresh.

Is ground beef good after 3 days in fridge?

Ground beef can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, but it must be consumed within four days. Ground beef can be kept in the freezer for up to 4 months. The minimum internal temperature for ground beef, as determined by a food thermometer, is 160°F (71°C).

How long can uncooked ground beef stay in the fridge?

Make sure to thaw your ground beef in the refrigerator before using it to maintain its cold temperature. Raw meat can be kept frozen for up to four months and kept in the refrigerator for one to two days.

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