How to tell if meat is bad after cooking?

In this brief article, we will answer the question: “How to tell if meat is bad after cooking?”. Moreover, we will discuss the health consequences of eating meat that has spoiled after cooking, and how to prevent the cooked meat from going bad.

How to tell if meat is bad after cooking?

Here are some signs to look out for to determine if the meat has gone bad after cooking:

  • Odor: The stench of spoiled meat is often strong and unpleasant. If you notice a foul or rotten smell emanating from the cooked meat, it is a clear indication that it has spoiled. The odor may be so strong that it causes your face to squint.
  • Texture: Rotting meat may develop a sticky or slimy texture. If the cooked meat feels excessively slimy or sticky to the touch, it is a sign of bacterial growth and decomposition. Fresh, properly cooked meat should have a firm and moist texture.

You know something is wrong when the meat you’ve just cooked seems “slimy” or “wet”. Avoid using your tongue to taste any meat that has a slimy coating on it. You may prevent food poisoning by not placing the meat in your mouth to taste.

You should never eat or taste spoiled meat as they harmful microorganisms growing on it can make you very sick (1-5)

  • Color: The color of spoiled meat may also change noticeably. While cooked meat may naturally undergo some color changes during the cooking process, such as browning or caramelization, rotten meat may exhibit an abnormal color. 

In the case of poultry, which includes chicken and turkey, the color should generally range between bluish-white and yellow. If the meat appears greenish, grayish, or has patches of mold, it is an indication of spoilage.

  • Mold: Your pot of cooked meat should be thrown out as soon as you uncover it and see that the meat has been coated with mold. If you observe a little patch forming on the meat, most people will clip it off and discard it as waste. 

You can’t determine whether this mold is harmful if you eat it, so it’s best to avoid eating it if you can. Your meat should be scrapped as soon as you detect those things are becoming foggy.Be careful with molds as they produce dangerous mycotoxins that can make you very sick (6).

It is important to note that these signs may vary depending on the type of meat and the specific circumstances of its storage and cooking. 

Remember that when in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and discard meat that exhibits any of these signs of spoilage. 

Can you get sick from eating meat that has spoiled after cooking?

Yes, eating meat that has spoiled after cooking can pose various dangers to your health. When meat undergoes spoilage, harmful bacteria can multiply and produce toxins that can cause different foodborne illnesses (1-5). 

Here are some symptoms that someone may experience after consuming spoiled meat, along with some examples of the pathogens commonly associated with meat spoilage:

  • Gastrointestinal distress: Consuming spoiled meat can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea (7). 

These symptoms may be accompanied by an overall feeling of illness. Pathogens like Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli can cause these gastrointestinal infections (8).

  • Food Poisoning: Foodborne illnesses caused by eating spoiled meat can result in food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning may include abdominal pain, fever, headache, muscle aches, and dehydration (9). 

Pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens, and Bacillus cereus are common culprits of food poisoning (10).

  • Salmonellosis: Salmonella is a bacteria that can contaminate meat and cause salmonellosis (11-12). Symptoms typically appear within 12 to 72 hours after consumption and may include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting (11). 

Salmonella is commonly found in poultry, pork, and ground beef.

  • Campylobacteriosis: Campylobacter is a bacterial pathogen often associated with undercooked or contaminated poultry, including chicken (13). 

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal pain, fever, and nausea. These symptoms usually appear within 2 to 5 days after exposure (13).

  • E. coli Infections: Certain strains of E. coli, such as E. coli O157:H7, can cause severe illness . Contaminated ground beef and other meats have been associated with E. coli outbreaks (11). 

Symptoms may include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and in severe cases, kidney damage. Symptoms usually manifest within 3 to 4 days after exposure (9).

You should know that the severity of symptoms can vary depending on the individual’s health (14) and the specific pathogen involved. You should always be careful and never eat spoiled meat even if it was cooked.

What should you do if you suspect you have eaten meat that has spoiled after cooking?

If you have eaten meat that has spoiled after cooking, you should first monitor any symptoms that may develop, particularly gastrointestinal issues, and stay hydrated to prevent dehydration as recommended (15). 

It is important that you seek medical advice if symptoms are severe, persistent, or if you are vulnerable. 

You should also consider reporting the incident to food safety authorities and prevent cross-contamination by thoroughly cleaning utensils and surfaces.

Finally, remember that you should practice proper handling and storage rules (16) in the future to minimize the risk of consuming spoiled meat.

Why does cooked meat spoil?

For a variety of reasons, individuals consume terrible meat. Some people may consume rotten meat because they didn’t realize it had gone bad before they ate it, which is understandable. 

It’s also possible that they are on a limited budget and don’t want to throw out food. If you consume a poor-quality piece of meat, you might end up injuring yourself or even killing yourself (17).

Bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Salmonella, and Clostridium may be found in any poor meat, whether it is raw or cooked (17). 

Millions of instances of intoxication are brought on each year by these food-borne disorders. Cooked meat that has gone bad accounts for about 90% of these occurrences (17).

Bacteria in poor meat may multiply two times every twenty minutes if the preservation temperature is between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit (18).

That’s why you should do a thorough examination of your meat to ensure that it hasn’t gone bad. Knives for Cutting Meat should be used to cut the meat. You may then get a closer look at the meat’s inside. It’s a terrible indicator if you detect bits of slime or strange areas.

Food poisoning may be dangerous (9), but you can prevent it by learning how to recognize when your meat has gone bad using the tips described above.

How to store meat so it lasts longer?

Make sure to check the expiration date on the package of meat before you purchase it. You should not consume any meat that is beyond its sell-by date.

No matter how cheap the meat may be, always check the packaging for an expiration date before purchasing it.

The color of the meat you’re considering purchasing is a strong indicator of ruined meat, so be sure to scrutinize it thoroughly. Most people believe that meat that is brilliant red indicates freshness.

To them, the meat seems red because it has been exposed to air, which is not what causes it to be red. In terms of color, chicken meat should be blue or yellow, whereas pork should be pink or gray.

Check the meat’s odor to see whether it has a rotten taste. It doesn’t matter what kind of meat it is if it smells bad.

The meat should be thoroughly examined before purchase to determine whether it has any kind of sticky or slimy residue.

Preserving your meat is another approach to ensure that it doesn’t go bad. If you want to keep your meat safe, you may freeze it and store it at the right temperature. Because of this, it will still be nutritious and enjoyable to consume.


In this brief article, we answered the question, “How to tell if meat is bad after cooking?”. Moreover, we discussed the health consequences of eating meat that has spoiled after cooking, and how to prevent the cooked meat from going bad.


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