How to know if steak is spoiled

In this brief article, we’ll have a look at how to differentiate between fresh steak and the spoiled stuff. We’ll also touch on the dangers of consuming steak that has gone bad or expired and look at a few ways to store steak for the longest possible shelf life.

How to know if steak is spoiled?

The easiest way to check steak is to look at it. If it appears slimy and discolored, it might be going bad. Normally, beef cuts last only 3-5 days outside the refrigerator. 

Signs that your steak is spoiled 

The USDA recommends that cuts of beef should be used within three to five days of purchase, whereas ground beef should be used within one to two days of purchase. Here are a few ways to tell whether your steak is meant for the grill or the trash.

  1. Expiration date

If your steak comes in packaging, look at the label on it. Chances are, there’s a “best by” or “sell by” date on there that will clue you in as to how long you can store your steak. If the date has passed, it’s best to toss out the meat.

  1. Texture and appearance

Fresh steak has a purplish red or pink color, which turns brown in two or three days. If the steak appears dull or greyish, it might have gone bad. Even if the discoloration is in patches and not on the entire thing, it is not worth the risk to your health.

Moreover, fresh steak is tender and juicy to the touch. If it feels tacky or slimy, or if the meat feels dry, it’s likely to have gone bad.

Another thing to look for is mold. After the steak goes bad, mold can appear on it in the form of bluish or black spots. If that is the case, get rid of the cut. It has gone bad

  1. Smell

Although raw steak doesn’t exactly smell like an orchid, spoiled steak has a noticeably foul and rancid smell. Keep in mind, however, that dry-aged steak smells rather offensive too, so in that case, check for other signs to determine whether it has gone bad.

How to store steak for the longest possible shelf life

While beef cuts don’t last very long, there are a few ways to make them last longer. Here is what you can do:

  1. Refrigeration

Refrigeration is the easiest way to prolong the shelf life of your steak. Refrigerate in a sealable container, and your cuts should be good for up to five days before they start spoiling.

  1. Freezing

Freezing your steak takes a little more effort and preparation, but drastically extends its shelf life, allowing up to six months of shelf life.

To freeze your cuts, portion off individual steaks in separate containers or freezer bags so you can thaw only what you want to use at a time and leave the rest frozen.

It is important to note that vacuum-sealing your freezer bag will help preserve the flavor and juiciness of the steak, as well as help prevent microbial growth on the meat.

  1. Dry-aging

Dry-aged meat can be purchased straight off the shelf and can last up to twelve months when frozen. If you’re interested in putting in some time, effort, and resources, you can even do it yourself at home

Not only does dry-aging extend the shelf life of meat, it also provides it with denser flavor, as well as a juicier, tender texture. Worth looking into if you’re interested in it.

Dangers of consuming spoiled steak

As with other types of meat, consumption of spoiled steak can lead to food poisoning, since spoiled meat harbors a variety of bacteria and fungi, some of which can make you seriously ill, leading to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and cramps.

When microbes infect a piece of meat, they break it down and release toxins, which can lead to enteritis and in rare cases, even botulism. 

Therefore, always properly cook meat to destroy all microbes in it. Bear in mind, however, that if the meat has spoiled beforehand, the toxins and spores from the microbes can survive the heat from cooking, so be sure to carefully inspect it before use and when in doubt, throw it out.

Other FAQs about Steak that you may be interested in.

Can you eat steak raw?

How to cook a juicy well-done steak?

Can you eat medium steak when pregnant?

Can you eat steak with braces?


In this brief article, we have had a look at how to differentiate between fresh steak and the spoiled stuff. We also touched on the dangers of consuming steak that has gone bad or expired and looked at a few ways to store steak for the longest possible shelf life.