How long can ground beef sit out?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long can ground beef sit out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ground beef at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to spot bad ground beef and the health implications of eating spoiled ground beef.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long can ground beef sit out?

Ground beef lasts for about 2 hours when left out of the fridge at room temperature. 

You should discard the ground beef that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the ground beef being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard ground beef that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The beef itself is a highly perishable food time and when it is ground, its overall surface area increases. As the surface area of ground beef is increased, therefore there is more space for bacteria to spread on. 

Moreover, during the mincing and grounding process, the bacteria that were otherwise present on the surface of the meat now gets mixed throughout the whole mixture and the rate of contamination, as well as degradation of ground beef, also increases. Therefore care should be taken while handling, storing, and cooking it.

Different ways to spot bad beef

There are a couple of indicators that point out bad ground beef. You should consider the appearance, texture, and smell of the ground beef to reach a  final verdict on whether or not they have gone bad.

Appearance

If you spot a mold or other organic growth on your ground beef then it means that your ground beef has gone bad and the best thing you can do in this scenario is to get rid of it.

Color 

If you notice that the ground beef has off colors (greenish-grey or brown) then it is an indication that your ground beef has gone bad and it is better to discard it.

Several factors can be responsible for a change in the color of the ground beef and that includes light, oxidation reactions, temperature, and bacterial contamination. 

Texture 

If you feel something slimy or gooey while touching the ground beef then it means that your ground beef has gone bad and it is better to discard them. 

But keep one thing in mind that rinsing the ground beef won’t help you in this scenario as you won’t be able to get rid of the bacteria. Rinsing the bacteria-laden ground beef will put you at risk of cross-contamination as the bacteria will spread in the utensils and other food items that will come in contact with the water from the ground beef that has gone bad.

It is worth mentioning that you should wash your hands thoroughly after touching the bacteria-laden ground beef or else the bacteria will transfer from your hands to any other thing that comes in contact with your hands.

Smell 

If you smell something sour or ammonia-like while taking a sniff test of your ground beef then it means that your ground beef has gone bad.

If microbes somehow found their way to your ground beef and have spoiled it then the best thing you should do is to discard it.

Health implications of eating spoiled beef

In the case of beef Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, Shigella, E.coli, etc. can be present that can result in food poisoning.

So if you have devoured beef that has gone bad, it can result in food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, weakness, headaches, and dehydration.

A mild food poisoning lasts for about a day or two while a more persistent case of food poisoning can last for about 10 days.

  1. Diarrhea is an indication of the body that a certain obnoxious agent has entered it. So consumption of expired or bacteria-laden beef often causes diarrhea.
  1. Food poisoning after consuming bad beef is characterized by abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is also accompanied by vomiting and nausea in most cases.
  1. If you have consumed beef that has bacterial growth on it then you will experience nausea and vomiting which is the natural defense of the body to get rid of the unwanted harmful substance that has entered the body.
  1. Consuming beef that has gone bad will also raise your body temperature and you can experience fever which is the natural defense mechanism of your body and is the indicator that something is off with your body.

So in case you have devoured bad beef and are now suffering from vomiting and diarrhea,  you should try to drink as much water as possible so that while the body is getting rid of the toxins in form of diarrhea and vomiting, the water that you drink will protect your body against dehydration that vomiting can otherwise result in.

Moreover, the symptoms of severe and potentially life-threatening food poisoning involve diarrhea persisting for more than 3 days, fever higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, symptoms of severe dehydration, and bloody urine. In such a case, you should seek medical help immediately.

You can read whether or not eating red meat is bad for your health here.

Other FAQs about Beef  that you may be interested in.

How long can thawed beef stay in the fridge?

Can you cook frozen beef?

Can you put raw ground beef in a slow cooker?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long can ground beef sit out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ground beef at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed different ways to spot bad ground beef and the health implications of eating spoiled ground beef.

Citations

https://www.stilltasty.com/questions/how-long-can-raw-ground-beef-be-left-out#:~:text=You%20can%20safely%20leave%20raw,F%20and%20140%C2%B0%20F.
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/meat/ground-beef-and-food-safety
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-tell-if-ground-beef-is-bad

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.