Because most college students are on a budget, it can be really annoying to see what was once perfectly good food go to waste because it has spoiled. This is especially true for meat, which is often the most expensive part of a meal. It’s not unusual to see a group of roommates gathered around a package of chicken or ground beef sniffing at the contents, wondering out loud, ‘Is this still safe to eat?’ Determining if meat has spoiled can sometimes be tricky so students often just shrug their shoulders and assume that they’ll be fine even if their food isn’t exactly fresh. However, consuming bad or spoiled meat can cause stomach pains and food poisoning. To make sure your meat and poultry are edible, check out these tricks:
- Consider how long the meat has been in the fridge. It is recommended that raw poultry and raw ground red meats be left in the fridge before use for 1 to 2 days. Red meats that have been cut into roasts, steaks or chops can last about 3 to 5 days before use, and cooked meat or poultry can last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
- Pro-tip: If you’ve purchased meat and don’t plan on using it for a while, store it in the freezer. Meat lasts much longer in the freezer, and you can place it in the fridge to thaw the night before you plan to use it.
If your meat hasn’t been sitting in the fridge too long and you’re still not sure if it’s safe to eat, consider these three things:
- Smell – Perhaps the quickest way to know if your meat is over the hill is to consider how it smells. Spoiled meat will have a distinct, pungent smell that will make your face scrunch up.
- Texture – In addition to an unpleasant scent, spoiled meats can be sticky or slimy to the touch.
- Color – Rotten meats will also undergo a slight change in color. Poultry should be anywhere from a bluish-white to yellow in color. Raw pork is a grayish-pink. Ground beef has a larger variation in color from bright red to purplish-red to even a brownish-red. But if any of your meat turns green or a greenish-brown color, it’s time to chuck the chuck, so to speak.