How Can You Tell If Steak Has Gone Bad?

Improper storage of steak can cause it to spoil and consuming spoiled meat can result in food poisoning, making it crucial to know how to recognize spoilage for your safety and that of your loved ones.

It can be difficult to determine if your steak is still safe to eat or has gone bad. Therefore, how can you tell if the stored steak is suitable for consumption or needs to be thrown away?

If you notice a thin slimy film on the surface of your steak, it is a clear indication that the steak has gone bad; this film makes the steak shinier and is easy to spot. Other signs of spoiled steak include a rancid smell similar to ammonia or significant discoloration. It is important to remember that steak should not be stored in the fridge for more than five days and should never be consumed after its expiration date.

If you are uncertain about the quality of your steak, keep reading as we will explore this topic further. Discoloration does not necessarily indicate spoilage immediately.

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3 Signs That Steak Has Gone Bad

If your steak shows any of these indications, dispose of it.

1. Unpleasant Odor

The simplest method to determine if your steak has spoiled is by conducting a smell test.

If your uncooked or cooked steak emits a foul smell, it is not suitable for consumption as the growth of spoilage bacteria like Pseudomonas spp. on the steak causes the alteration in odor.

After discarding your spoiled steak, it is important to clean your refrigerator thoroughly to prevent the spread of the unpleasant odor and potential contamination to other foods.

Other indications can help you determine if your steak has gone bad, even if you don’t detect any changes in its smell.

2. Slimy or sticky texture

Examining the consistency of your steak is an additional method to determine if it has spoiled. When you press it between your fingers, a new steak should be solid.

If your steak has a slimy, sticky, or tacky texture, it is an indication that it has spoiled and needs to be discarded.

Finally, make sure to wash your hands after handling meat that exhibits these indications to prevent the transmission of bacteria to your food or belongings.

3. Color change

When steak is fresh, it has a cherry red color, but if it spoils, its color changes to grey, green or brown; additionally, if left exposed to oxygen for some time, it may also change from red to brown.

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Although meat oxidation is not considered spoilage, a light brown or grey color that appears on the steak overnight does not necessarily indicate that it has gone bad; nevertheless, it is important to confirm that the steak has been stored correctly and does not exhibit any other indications of spoilage.

If you are uncertain about the alteration in color and unable to ascertain whether the steak has spoiled or not, it would be advisable to discard it.

To determine if your steak has gone bad, it’s important to recognize that the color of different types of meat varies and this knowledge is crucial.

Here’s how various kinds of meat appear when they are still fresh.

Type of Meat Color
Poultry Greyish pink
Beef Cherry red
Fish Pure white, greyish red, and dark red in others
Mutton Light red
Horse Dark Red
Pork Greyish pink
Veal  Brownish pink

Freezing steak alters its visual characteristics. As long as there are no additional indications of spoilage, such as an unpleasant odor or a tacky consistency, the meat is likely safe to consume.

How Long Can You Store Steak In the Fridge?

While a refrigerator can prevent steak from spoiling, there are specific time constraints for storing it.

The FDA has provided the suggested refrigerator storage period for different types of meat (including steak) in their guidelines.


Raw poultry, such as breasts, must not be stored in the refrigerator for more than 48 hours, while cooked poultry can be kept for up to four days.


Raw beef and steak can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days without any harm, but there are some exclusions such as kidneys, heart, liver, and ground beef that should not be kept in the fridge for more than one or two days.

If your steak is cooked, it can be refrigerated for a period of 3 to 4 days.


Raw fish can be kept in the refrigerator for a period of one to two days, while any remaining fish can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.

Smoked fish can be refrigerated for up to 14 days, while canned fish like Tuna should only be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days after opening.


Raw pork can be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 days, including roast pork, while ground pork should be kept in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, similar to ground beef.

Processed pork products have different storage timelines. If unopened, hot dogs can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, while an opened package should be consumed within a week.

Cooked ham and bacon should not be kept in the refrigerator for more than a week, but if you have sliced ham, it can be stored for up to four days.

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How Long Can You Leave Steak Out at Room Temperature?

Steak, whether it’s cooked or uncooked, must not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours; if it is left out by accident, dispose of the steak right away.

Many people believe that reheating steak that has been left out at room temperature will make it safe to eat, but this is not true. The truth is that when steak sits at room temperature, it can produce heat-resistant toxins and bacteria that are challenging to eliminate even with high temperatures.

Is Cooked Meat Okay to Leave Out Overnight?

Cooked meat should not be consumed if it has been left out of the fridge for more than two hours, which means that eating meat that has stayed out overnight is not safe.

What is the reason behind it? The temperature range of 40° F to 140° F promotes rapid multiplication of bacteria, which can be detrimental to your well-being.

How Long Can You Keep Steak In the Freezer?

Steak can be stored in the freezer for a duration of six to twelve months, while other beef cuts like roasts can be safely kept frozen for four to twelve months.

To ensure the highest quality, it is recommended to freeze beef leftovers for a period of two to three months.

Different types of meat have varying safe storage durations in the freezer.

Uncooked pork can be stored in the freezer for approximately 4 to 12 months, while pork chops can be safely kept frozen for up to 6 months; however, if the pork is already cooked, it should only be frozen for a period of 2 to 3 months.

Poultry such as chicken has a freezer life of up to one year, but it is advisable to consume them within 9 months, while giblets can only last for 3-4 months in the freezer.

When freezing seafood, it is important to exercise caution and take note of the type of fish being frozen. Lean fish like catfish should be stored in the freezer for a duration of 6 to 8 months, while fatty fish such as salmon can be kept frozen for a period of 2 to 3 months.

What’s the Best Way to Store Steak?

Steak should be stored in the freezer as it has a longer shelf life there compared to when kept in the refrigerator.

It is crucial to freeze your steak correctly; otherwise, it may not be safe to eat.

To prevent freezer burn, you should wrap the steak with foil, silicone bags, or vacuum seal bags before freezing it.

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To enhance the protection of the steak, it is recommended to add an extra layer of wrapping material, and a zip-top bag is considered the most suitable option for this purpose.

The purpose of the second layer is to avoid any contact between your steak and the cold air present in the freezer.

What Can Happen If You Eat Spoiled Steak?

Consuming spoiled steak can result in food poisoning as the bacteria present in the meat will continue to multiply in your digestive system, ultimately causing an infection.

Salmonella and Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium perfringens are the prevalent bacteria types found in steak.

If you think that the steak you consumed is spoiled and causing food poisoning, then examine yourself for the presence of these symptoms.

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Bloated stomach
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea

It is advisable to seek medical advice to confirm if you are experiencing food poisoning since some of the symptoms may be similar to those of other illnesses.

Can You Tell If Steak Has Gone Bad After Cooking?

Before cooking a steak, it is possible to determine if it has gone bad by inspecting its color and odor.

When cooking spoiled steak, it emits an odor similar to ammonia and may turn green instead of the typical grey-brown color.

If you suspect that your steak has gone bad, it may have a sour and bitter taste, but it is not recommended to taste it as there is a risk of ingesting harmful bacteria.

Before cooking steak, it is recommended to inspect for spoilage, as the indications such as discoloration, unusual smell, and tacky consistency will be more apparent at that time.

Can You Cook And Eat Brown or Gray Steak?

It may not be easy to give a clear answer to this question.

Although raw steak typically appears red, there may be instances where brown or gray spots develop on the inside of your stored steak, which is often a result of exposure to oxygen during refrigeration and can occur within a day or two.

If you notice any changes in color of the steak after storing it for a long time, it is advisable to discard it as this alteration in color is a clear indication of spoilage. As the color of meat varies depending on the cut, it would be helpful to conduct research on your particular cut to determine its appearance when fresh, oxidized, or spoiled.

By doing this, you can determine the current condition of your steak and decide if it is safe to cook and consume without the risk of getting sick.

You can also check this video about “How Can You Tell If Steak Has Gone Bad?”

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