How to tell when ground beef goes bad

Updated April 17, 2017

Perhaps you had to cancel taco night at home or you didn't have all the ingredients needed to make that minced meat dish you wanted to prepare for dinner. Whatever the case, now you're not sure if the minced meat that has been sitting in your refrigerator for several days is still safe to eat. While the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that minced meat placed in the refrigerator be used within two days, the best way to determine if the meat has spoiled is to use examine the meat.

Look at the minced meat. Minced meat that had gone bad will have a slimy sheen across the top. Also, while some browning in the interior of the meat may occur on beef that is safe to eat, if the entire package of minced meat has turned greyish-brown including the exterior, it's a sign that it has started to spoil.

Smell the minced meat. Spoiled minced meat will have an somewhat sour smell. If the meat has any type of strong smell, which fresh ground meat does not have, discard it.

Touch the minced meat. If the minced meat is sticky or slimy-feeling to the touch, it's not a good idea to use. Throw it out immediately and wash your hands thoroughly.


If you think that you're not going to be able to cook the minced meat you placed in the refrigerator, place it in the freezer within two days of purchasing it, where it will last for three to four months.

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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.