If your ground beef smells like eggs, it's time to discard it. It’s a sign that the meat is starting to go bad. Don’t risk food poisoning - get rid of that beef. Remember the golden rule of food safety when it comes to sketchy meat - when in doubt, throw it out!
Ground beef is a common ingredient I use in many dishes like stews, pasta, tacos, hamburgers, and more. It's an easy meat to prepare, versatile, and affordable. Thanks to my culinary experience working with ground beef, I'll help you find out what is wrong with your beef.
Ready for a deep dive into the world of ground beef? Let’s go, and figure out why your beef smells bad!
If your packed ground beef smells like eggs, it’s because it’s deteriorating. When bacteria multiply on meat, it can produce a rotten egg smell. Don’t eat the beef. Throw it away. The smell of rotten eggs is due to the acids created by bacteria.
Bad ground beef can also smell like someone passed gas (sorry, didn’t want to say it, but it’s true). If you’ve got beef that smells like flatulence, get rid of it. It’s not worth the risk of food poisoning.
I always advise that you cook ground beef as soon as it is ground. I have the butcher grind it fresh for me and try to cook it the same day. When cooking, fresh is always best.
But if you have to refrigerate it, make sure you cook and consume it within the next 24 to 48 hours. Ground beef starts to go bad in the fridge after 2 days.
This is because meat undergoes high oxygenation due to the grinding process. Ground beef (and any other ground meat) has more surface area exposed to air. Air causes food to deteriorate. So, the shelf life of ground beef in the fridge will always be shorter than a whole cut, like a steak.
Not going to cook that beef in the next 2 days? No problem! Stick the ground beef in the freezer.
By freezing ground beef, you can extend the shelf life of the meat by a couple of months. Ensure that you cook and consume the beef within 4 months. The meat will last indefinitely in the freezer, but will taste the best when used within 4 months. Any longer than that, and the beef will start to get freezer burn.
When your ground beef smells even just a little, this means that the beef has likely gone bad. It should not be consumed. Even my poodles will not eat it!
The fart smell or eggy smell indicates bacteria cells like E-coli, Yersinia, or Salmonella have started working on the meat cells or fibers.
You don't want to admit these bad guys in your system!
Even when you cook spoiled beef, it still won't make it safe to eat. The bacteria are killed by cooking temps. The toxins they leave behind are not. You are playing footsie with food poisoning if you go ahead and consume bad beef. Don’t do it.
Foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli and salmonellosis are responsible for millions of cases of food poisoning each year. Most of these are the result of eating spoiled meat. Don’t be a statistic. Toss sketchy beef.
Aside from the rotten egg smell, these are other ways to recognize inedible ground beef!
Before buying any ground meat, always check the expiration date specified on the packaging.
Likewise, avoid buying it if the container does not have an expiration date, batch, or packaging date.
The best thing you can do is to choose freshly ground beef. Ask the butcher to grind the beef for you. They are happy too. You can even specify which type of grind you prefer (coarse, medium, or fine).
The color of the meat is another way I can identify whether it is in poor condition or not.
Freshly ground beef normally has a bright red color. If the fresh ground beef has been vacuum-packed, its color should be a sort of purplish red. As it ages, the beef turns brown.
If some parts of the beef are green, put the beef away. It’s gone bad.
Smelling meat is perhaps the easiest way to tell if it's good or bad.
Ground beef should have a slight “beefy” smell. It shouldn’t be offensive. If the smell of your beef makes you cringe, dump it. It’s bad beef.
Rotten meat can also have a slimy texture. This indicates that bacteria have already begun to multiply on its surface. If your beef feels or looks slimy, pitch it. It shouldn’t be sticky either. Dump beef that’s sticky.
Your ground beef smells that way because it has gone bad. The fart or eggy smell is the odor caused by the bacterial population on the raw meat.
Bad ground beef can smell like rotten eggs or give another foul odor. The smell is sometimes putrid or rancid. This is caused by bacteria deteriorating the meat cells, possibly due to improper storage. Don’t eat meat that smells offensive. You risk food poisoning.
Beef contains a chemical that smells like sulfur. You may notice that smell when you open the vacuum-sealed package after storage.
However, the sulfur smell may not be due to spoilage if the meat has been stored properly. If it's not slimy and the color of the meat has not changed, it may still be safe to cook and consume.
Meat spoils when bacteria live on it. This process produces acids with the characteristic smell of broken and rotten eggs. Do not eat meat that smells bad. Unfortunately, you can't redeem bad meat, not even by cooking it.
It is essential to preserve meat correctly. The chances of getting sick due to food poisoning increase exponentially when you consume beef that is not fresh or has not been stored properly.