How to Tell if Steak is Bad or Spoiled - 5 signs your steak is bad

The company is arriving, and your grill is already set up. When you remove your steaks from the fridge, you realise they don't look as wonderful as they did when you first got them.


Have they actually become evil, or is it just paranoia? Are you going to contaminate your mother-in-food? Sorry, law's food, you see, we are already both nervous.


To help you grill with confidence and protect your mother-in-law (since that's what you wanted, right? ), we've listed the top five symptoms that your steak has gone bad.

How to determine whether a steak has gone bad

Before preparing a steak that has been in the refrigerator for a few days, make sure it hasn't gone bad.


Knowing how to identify a poor steak is essential to keeping your guests pleased and your stomach from becoming upset. Even meat that is kept in the freezer can go bad over time.


Any grillmaestro/a must be aware of the following problematic traits, from slick surfaces to stinky meat.

1. It is outdated

Although it may seem apparent as day, many consumers still misunderstand the distinction between "use-by" and "sell-by" dates, especially if they have been storing their steak in the freezer for some time.


  • The "use-by" date informs you of how long the steak has before it will likely turn, allowing you to prepare or freeze it accordingly. Therefore, if the use-by date is July 22, you must either grill it or freeze it by that date to prevent it from rotting.


  • The "sell-by" date, on the other hand, indicates how long the butcher or retailer can keep the steak on the shelf and available for purchase. This gives the customer enough time after they buy their steak to cook it or freeze it before it starts to spoil.

It's vital to remember that you should attempt to freeze your steak a day or two before the use-by date if you decide to do so. This is necessary so that it can thoroughly freeze and thaw without going past the use-by window.


For instance, it's best practice to store your steak in the freezer before July 20 if its use-by date is July 22. So, once the steak is taken out to thaw, you'll have at least 48 hours before it starts to turn.


As a general guideline, it should be fine to store your steak in the refrigerator for three to five days before using it if the store packaging or your butcher doesn't provide you with a use-by date. If you choose to freeze it, be careful to mark the bag with both the date of purchase and the date of freezing.


Steak may be frozen for six to twelve months before the quality starts to suffer, in accordance with the FDA.

2. It's slime Mr.Grime

Slime is unappealing in any circumstance, but when it's on your steak, it's an especially terrible indication.


When a steak is poor, it frequently has a slimy, slippery appearance and texture. The flesh will have a sheen on the surface, and the slime may seem yellowish when it catches the light.


This sticky layer, which is the result of bacterial growth (yuck), is a surefire indication that your steak has gone bad and should be thrown away rather than grilled. Mould would begin to appear on the surface of a slimy steak in a matter of days if left out.


Remember that not all of your steak may get slimy at once if the flesh is just starting to flip. As a result, before cooking, you should always check your steak for any sloppy places.

3. It seems faded

Although it can be unattractive, discoloured flesh doesn't always indicate that your steak has been past its prime.


Haemoglobin and myoglobin are two distinct proteins that give meat its colour. Haemoglobin is a substance found in the blood, whereas myoglobin is a substance found in muscle that gives fresh meat its red hue.


Oxygen and these proteins interact chemically after an animal is killed and its meat is exposed to the air. Your steak's colour will go through three stages of this process before reaching a point of chemical equilibrium.


  • The first phase starts as soon as your steak is cut into slices. This stage, which has a purplish-red hue, results from myoglobin starting to interact with oxygen.
  • Cherry red is the colour of the second stage. After being exposed to the air for around 30 minutes, this will start to manifest.
  • Three days or so later, the third and final stage will be reached. Myoglobin has now fully oxidised and changed into "metmyoglobin" at this point. This gives the meat a brown appearance, which is less appealing than a steak that is a deep red colour. There is, however, nothing improper with the meat's quality or safety at this point.


This is a basic timeframe, but it can happen quicker or slower based on a variety of variables, including the animal's age, species, diet, and level of physical activity. The darkening process can potentially be accelerated by freezing or light exposure.


Thus, colour changes by themselves do not signify a ruined steak. It is a typical and natural process brought on by oxygen exposure.


Toss your steak, though, if it has drastically browned and is also exhibiting any of the other markers listed in this guide.

4. Dryness

Dryness is another sign that a steak has aged past its peak. Does your steak appear a little shrivelled and dried or feel dry to the touch?


Even though your steak is dry and lacks juice, eating it might not give you an upset stomach. However, the texture and flavour of your steak will surely suffer once it is cooked if there isn't a sufficient amount of fat or marbling throughout the meat.


Packing your steaks in a vacuum-sealed bag before freezing them is an excellent technique to stop them from drying out. As a result, the juices will be kept inside for natural hydration and will not be exposed to the air or any potential bacteria.


In order to conserve moisture, you should store your steak tightly wrapped in clingfilm or in a sealed container if you are not freezing it but will be storing it in the refrigerator for a few days.

5. It has a foul odour

Fresh, raw beef doesn't exactly have a pleasant smell to most people, but it shouldn't smell bad.


Fresh red meat has a faint metallic or bloody odour. Since this aroma isn't strong, you typically need to get extremely close to detect it.


In contrast, a rotten steak will have a distinct odour that smells sour, a little like eggs, or like ammonia. You could flinch in horror at this fragrance, and you might even feel a little queasy!


Having said that, some dry-aged steaks will inadvertently smell like cheese because lactic acid is generated throughout the ageing process.


Therefore, the best way to determine whether a dry-aged steak has gone bad is not by smelling it. Instead, look for the other indicators we've listed to see if you can consume it.


Having said that, some dry-aged steaks will inadvertently smell like cheese because lactic acid is generated throughout the ageing process.


Therefore, the best way to determine whether a dry-aged steak has gone bad is not by smelling it. Instead, look for the other indicators we've listed to see if you can consume it.

Let’s wrap it up

You should feel certain that you can tell a good steak from a bad one now that you are aware of the warning signs.


The unfortunate truth is that your steak should go in the garbage rather than on the grill if it is slimy, dry, or past its prime.


Although a discoloured steak may not taste well, it may not be a problem in and of itself. However, the meat is probably past its prime if it is excessively dark and exhibits any of the other rotting symptoms.


Exercise care to store your steak properly to keep it as fresh as possible for the longest time. If you choose to freeze it, wrap it in a vacuum sealer and store it in the freezer a few days before the expiration date. For future reference, don't forget to write the date on the wrapper.


Steak for your thoughts? Have you ever had the misfortune to find a rotten steak?

1 comment

After learning about the health benefits and superior quality of grass-fed beef, I am motivated to provide my family with a nutritious and delicious dining experience. With a desire to support sustainable farming practices and enjoy the rich flavor and tenderness of grass-fed beef, I am excited to source it for our upcoming weekend dinner, ensuring a wholesome and satisfying meal for everyone to enjoy. It’s great that you mentioned how if the shop packaging or your butcher doesn’t give you a use-by date, it should be okay to store your steak in the refrigerator for three to five days before consuming it. Thanks.

Taylor Abrams December 12, 2023

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