HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


A little worried about my ground beef...

I picked up a pound of fresh ground beef at the butcher (Thundering Hooves for anyone familiar with Walla Walla), came home, put it in the back of the fridge and forgot it was there because our dinner plans changed at the last minute.

It was sealed, not just wrapped, but the date says Sept. 14. I made my hamburgers (they're now in the fridge waiting to be grilled) and they smell "normal" not foul, but I'm a little worried.

What do you think? Would you eat it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I admit, I'd have tossed it even before opening to smell it - ground beef is one of those things that I keep for generally one day, or I freeze it. But I tend to err on the side of caution, so others may have a different take.

    1. If they don't smell and aren't gray or slimy, go ahead and make the burgers. If you are more cautious, use the beef in something that you cook more thoroughly. If I have ground beef that is starting to smell off but that I still want to use, it's generally for chili or sloppy joes, sometimes just thoroughly browned with onions and soy sauce and spooned over mashed potato.

      7 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I'm with you on the smell and slimy front.

        1. re: greygarious

          i agree about smell and slime, but not greyness. meat, unless it is treated, turns grey when exposed to air.

          1. re: thew

            This is true. A grey color on your ground beef can simply be the iron in the meat/blood oxidizing when it is exposed to air.

            If they smelled fine, I would have eaten them, but I would have made sure they were cooked thoroughly without any pink remaining. Scratch that - I hate well-done burgers. I would have used the meat for something else, like tacos, where I could break it up and ensure it was cooked all the way through to kill any potential bacteria.

            1. re: QueenB

              my understanding is that the grey you find inside of a package of ground beef, or when a skirt steak is folded over itself, is from a *lack* of air exposure. that would be fine to eat. when the outside of your meat is grey, it was time to throw it away yesterday.

              as far as keeping day old ground beef, i think 1 day is about the max, and that's if it's wrapped really well. take a hit on the 4 bucks and get yourself some fresh meat.

              1. re: QueenB

                Ground beef does not turn gray when exposed to oxygen...It turns Red! It's called "Bloom" .....


                1. re: Uncle Bob

                  Sorry, had it backwards. I hadn't had my required cup of coffee yet.

                  1. re: QueenB

                    No apology needed Miss QueenB :)

          2. I am sure someone will give you more official advice. But, my mamma always told me that 5 days in the fridge is okay for beef. I am "posting proof" that it won't kill you if you follow the "5 day rule" :)

            1. Thanks all!
              I'm going to go ahead and grill'em up. I get so mad at myself if I waste food, especially something like this great beef, so I'm taking the risk.

              1 Reply
              1. re: browneyedwoman

                Please update us. What was the upshot? I hope nothing "shot" anywhere! ;-)

              2. I would eat them burgers for sure. I don't know what your label looks like, but usually the date is a "sell by" date. I have no idea what that means in terms of "cook or freeze by" date, and if I did I still would not trust a label created by who knows who in some back room of the meat department. As others have said, give it a sniff test (which it seems you did and they passed), and if you like your burgers medium rare, make it more to the medium side this time. Should be no problem at all for meatloaf, spaghetti sauce and such.

                And even if it smells a bit rank you can still detoxify funky meat by cooking to to 160 F. You can't de-funkify it, but it still makes great dog or cat food after a proper cooking.

                1. No. Never. Not for all the love or money in the world.

                  My rule for any uncooked ground meat is the same as my rule for fish. Use within two days of purchase or thawing. My mother used to keep it a little longer, a la what sedimental posted, but from what I read often enough, our food supply isn't as sanitary as it used to be when my mother was cooking for a family.

                  It's just not worth the risk to me, and some of the nasties that can be picked up can be (aren't always, but *can be*) especially dangerous to very young children, the elderly and people with any kind of immune system deficiency. My motto in the kitchen, whether we're discussing equipment, procedure or food, is, "Better safe than sorry." JMO.

                  1. I would not have eaten it --- Not worth the risk to me for a pound of hamburger.

                    With an expiration date of the 14th...Your post on the 22nd... I have to wonder if anyone would buy meat from a grocery/market that was 8 days out of date....

                    As you played Russian Roulette, I hope the gun came up on an empty chamber!

                    1. Ewwww - no way would I eat this meat. I would have tossed it without ever opening the package.

                      1. I hate ground beef anyway :P
                        But yeah, if I'd made burgers, I'd leave them a day at most.

                        1. I believe you're saying the meat was cryovac sealed, not just the usual film wrap. Meat lasts refrigerated over a month when sealed this way, since no air can get in, and since chop meat gets real stinky when it's past its prime, I don't see anything wrong here. And the Sept 14 date, since it seems like a good butcher, could be the pack date, not the expiration.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: coll

                            Aw, yeah, if it was cryovac-sealed, I would have totally eaten it. No problem.

                          2. Just make sure to cook the meat thoroughly. No pink in the middle. If you want medium-rare burgers, the meat should be ground immediately beforehand by a source you trust.

                            1. Yes, I should have described it better. It was "cryo" (?) sealed so no oxygen was getting in but it still wigged me out because I never wait that long to cook fresh meat.

                              Happy to report all is well intestinally speaking. No ill effects, the meat was fine.

                              Thanks for all the input!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: browneyedwoman

                                Thanks for reporting back. I hope that the folks who may be needlessly throwing out usable meat will read your follow-up. That the package was in the coldest part of the refrigerator clearly worked in your favor, as did the packaging. When it comes to ground beef, "you're only as old as you smell".

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  LOL, greygarious.

                                  Am I the only one who doesn't particularly like cryovac packaging? I understand it's supposed to have some miraculous holding properties, but I always feel like I smell the packaging all over the raw meat...or something. I'm not sure how to describe my problem with it. A lot of blood also seems to come out of the meat and pool in the packages?

                                  1. re: Normandie

                                    It does have miraculous holding properties: of course it's not like fresh, fresh meat killed that day, but sometimes you want something that will hold I guess. Works for me for everyday use, I trust the packaging (usually factory) more than the flimsy stuff you find in the supermarket. Never noticed any plastic-y odor myself. I think the blood (or red liquid that probably includes added water) could be possibly more abundant due to lack of evaporation.

                                2. re: browneyedwoman

                                  VERY glad to hear you're okay (despite my customary conservatism). :-)