Bacteria from spoiled pork can cause food poisoning, which produces symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms can take one to three days to occur. Fresh pork can be a healthy addition to your diet. A 3.5-ounce serving of lean pork contains 190 calories and 5 grams of fat. Lean pork is also an excellent source of protein, with 30 grams per serving, and contains B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. It's important to know how to determine when the meat has gone bad.
Check the package date before buying or cooking pork. If pork has a "use-by" date, cook or freeze it by the date listed. If a "sell-by" date or no date is listed, cook or freeze pork roast, steaks, chops or ribs within three to five days of buying. Do not eat pork with an expired "use by" or "sell by" date unless it was properly frozen before this date.
Store pork properly to avoid spoilage. If fresh pork is sold packaged in plastic wrap, transfer it to storage freezer bags before placing it in a freezer or refrigerator; this avoids contact with air. Use a bag with a zipper, and squeeze out all of the excess air before sealing. Pork should be stored in a refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Freeze pork at zero degrees Fahrenheit and consume within four to six months.
Smell the pork. Fresh pork should have little or no odor. If any sour, ammonia-like or strange odor is present, the pork is not fresh and should be discarded. The only exception is vacuum-packed pork, which might have an odor that should dissipate once the meat is rinsed under cold water.
Feel the pork to ensure it is firm and moist. Spoiled pork will have a sticky feel, or can feel hard or dry.
Look for a grayish-pink color in fresh pork. Rotten, raw pork can be brown or dark gray, and it should be discarded. Any fat marbling should be white, never yellow or gray.
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Food Product Dating
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Food Safety at Home
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: A Food Safety and Inspection Service: Fresh Pork from Farm to Table
- "Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork"; Bruce Aidells, et al.; 2004
- Fit Day: The Nutrition of Lean Pork