How To Tell If Steak is Bad and How to Preserve Better

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Written By Aimee Nakazawa

Steak is like other food meaning it will go bad after some time and produce discoloration and a rancid smell that can make you feel sick. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of spoilage to save yourself and your family any chance of getting poisoned. Storing steak in your refrigerator or freezer will slow down the spoiling process if you won’t be eating steak right away.

Signs Your Steak Is Spoiled

It’s not unusual for you to find yourself confused about whether your steak is fresh and edible. So, to know if your steak has gone bad, there are some food poisoning or tell-tale signs:

1. Expiration Date/ Use-By Date

Always check the expiration date of your steak, and this is the ”use-by” date where you need to cook, freeze or refrigerate within the date to ensure your steak is in the best condition.

If you realize the due or expiry date has passed after buying steak, you can still save it by checking for other signs of spoilage as long as it doesn’t have any of the below symptoms.

Notably, the best sell-by date is five days in the future if you remove the steak from the freezer. This gives you a larger window or shelf life to enjoy your thawed steak.

2. Smell

Fresh steak smells good, and although it may have a bloody odor, it has a pleasant smell. Fresh red meat doesn’t have a smell unless you bring it close to your nose. Whenever your steak smells bad like it has a cheese-like, ammonia-like, sour or rotten aroma, even a little, the steak is bad, and you should dispose of it.

3. Color

When steak goes bad, it doesn’t have the same freshness and color as it used to be as fresh meat. When you see that your steak has lost its beautiful cherry red hue or purplish-red color and has a strange color, it is a sure sign that spoiled meat bacteria has begun growing.

Nevertheless, look for other signs since the different colors can be because of exposure to oxygen, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a spoilage sign. However, if it darkens to an unacceptable level, it may be time to discard it.

4. Texture

Check your raw steak by moving fingers through it to check its texture because steaks are moist but don’t have a slippery or slimy texture. Notably, the appearance of a yellowish slimy film will tell you that bacteria has started to grow, and this will be followed by mold.

In addition, if you think that you have a dry steak and it’s not tasty, the dryness is not necessarily a symptom that the steak has gone bad, but it should tell you that the steak is not worth eating.

What are the Types of Steak?

To tell if your steak is bad, you need to know the types of steak, their aging process, how to preserve them, and when they are safe to eat.

a). Raw Steak

When you purchase raw steak from a supermarket and don’t want to cook it immediately, you will have to refrigerate or freeze it as soon as you decide not to consume it. First, you need to figure out how long you can store it.

Like other perishable foods, Steak doesn’t last long at room temperature, so you need to store it at once. As per the Food and Drug Administration, unrefrigerated steaks get spoiled after two hours.

When you refrigerate it, it can last longer for about three to five days, and with the steak fresh condition when it’s refrigerated well at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freezing steak is the best way to preserve your raw meat for a long, and it can correctly be stored will last for six to 12 months in the freezer.

b). Cooked Steak

If you have a delicious steak since you overestimated the food and now you cannot finish up your cooked steak. But you will not want to waste the leftovers, so you will have to refrigerate or freeze your steak.

However, if you don’t store your cooked steak within two hours after it has been cooked, it gets spoiled, and you cannot be able to save it. But what happens when you put it in the fridge immediately? How long will it last?

Since cooked steak is seasoned, it will easily get spoiled than raw meat, and you can store it for a maximum of four days. In addition, you can freeze cooked steak, and it will go safely for up to three months, but it depends on how you store it.

c). Marinated Steak

Suppose you marinate steak with pepper, salt, olive oil, and other ingredients but plan to cook it in the few days you can store it. Unfortunately, no steak lives long at room temperature, and marinated steak is not an exception that can sit out for two hours on your counter.

The best way to preserve marinated steak is to refrigerate it and up to five days, and the fewer ingredients it has, the longer the marinated steak will last. You may also wonder if it’s possible to store marinated in the freezer since you want to eat steak.

This will depend on the ingredients in the marinade sauce, but it’s a good choice for up to three months but will still give a fresh flavor.

How to Store Steak Properly to Prevent Spoilage Symptoms

Spoilage symptoms of bad steak are terrible, and nobody wants to experience them, but there is a solution. Steak doesn’t spoil when stored properly and when consumed by the sell-by-date, and you can either freeze it or put it in the fridge depending on how long you intend it to last.

a). Short-Term Storage: Refrigerating

Refrigerating steak is an optimal way to keep it fresh for various days. You can follow this comprehensive guide to know the best for your steak. The procedures for storing raw steak, cooked steak, and marinated steak are the same.

1. Wrap the Steak with One Layer

For raw steak, it’s crucial to keep the original package, and it’s the safest and most convenient way. However, you can wrap it in a vacuum-sealed package or freezer paper since you have already opened it.

Regarding cooked steak, you should wait until it’s cooled completely at room temperature but don’t allow it to sit longer than two hours. Then, you should place it in an airtight container.

2. Refrigerate the Steak

This is important, simple, and straightforward, and you will need to put your wrapped steak in the fridge. The colder the fridge, the longer the steak will last, and therefore you should place it in the coldest part of the fridge.

b). Long-Term Storage: Freezing

Freezing steak helps to last forever since low temperatures will prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Ensure that your steak is in great condition first because there’s will be no point n freezing it.

1. Wrap The Steak In 2 Layers

For the raw steak, it’s better to keep the original package since there is still air in it, and you should get the steak out, rinse it thoroughly with water, and pat it dry.

Then, wrap your steak in a plastic layer and fold it well to allow any air surrounding the steak. Although one layer is not enough to protect your perfect steak from low temperatures and you will need a second layer to ensure all air is removed.

It can also protect your good steak from freezer burn and ice crystals. The second layer should be a sealed container or a vacuum sealing that handles freezing temperatures, such as a zip-top or a vacuum-sealed bag. Place your wrapped steak at the sealer’s bottom or bag, squeeze out all the air.

2. Freeze The Steak

After you wrap your dry-aged steak, everything else is direct, and you need to put it in the freezer. Depending on the steak type, you can defrost it within 6 to 12 months. Ensure you write the use by date somewhere on your container, and frozen steak maintains its quality for three months.

What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Steak?

Two types of bacteria grow when your juicy steak is not stored properly or has been stored for too long.

a). Pathogenic Bacteria

This causes spoiled steak symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, fever, and other mild and severe medical issues.

b). Spoilage Bacteria

This will cause your steak to change its texture, taste, color, and smell slightly, making the steak less tasty than it used to be.

If you eat slightly discolored steak or have a less attractive texture and smell, you will not likely develop foodborne symptoms. However, once you eat bad steak, you can suffer from a foodborne illness.

It usually takes about 30 minutes to several days for the illness symptoms to develop depending on how harmful the bacteria is, how much of it, and your immune system. Pregnant women and babies are more sensitive to spoiled food.

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About the author

Aimee Nakazawa

Aimee Nakazawa is a writer, photographer, cookbook author, and most importantly, she is the cook that prepares all scrumptious recipes. She also wrote a lot of shopping guides for the website.

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