If your steak smells like cheese, is sticky to the touch or has darkened in color, it may be time to toss it out. Make sure to avoid food spoilage, as failing to do so can lead to serious foodborne illness.
What Indicates Spoiled Steak?
According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), a change in color does not necessarily indicate spoilage. For example, if meat is pink, it could simply be due to heat combined with myoglobin, a protein that causes the meat to be red. Iridescent meat signals certain compounds, such as iron and fat.
However, spoiled meat may darken or fade, and will often have a putrid smell. If the meat is sticky or slimy, this may be another sign that it should be tossed out.
If meat has been stored in the freezer for a long time it can develop white spots, a sign of freezer burn. The areas with these spots are still edible, though they are often tasteless and dry. These pieces can be trimmed off and discarded. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises throwing away any food that shows signs of spoilage. That includes food that is abnormally soft, moldy, discolored or foul-smelling.
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How to Prevent Spoiled Beef
To prevent spoiled beef, it's important that food safety guidelines be followed. Factors such as storage and temperature can affect whether food becomes spoiled. The USDA FSIS recommends refrigerating steak for no more than five days and freezing steak for no more than 12 months.
When preparing steak, wash your hands with soap and water beforehand, says the USDA FSIS. You should also avoid cross-contamination by washing the cutting board each time it's used to cut meat. Keep meat that is marinating in a dish inside the refrigerator.
The USDA FSIS also explains that bacteria grow most quickly between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why it's advised that meat not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or more than one hour if the outside temperature is above 90 F.
You'll also want to ensure that your steak has been well-cooked as raw meat may contain bacteria. The oven temperature should be no lower than 325 F, and the internal temperature should not fall below 145 F.
Consuming Spoiled Steak: Symptoms
The Washington State Department of Health debunks certain myths tied to food safety, including those related to sickness from spoiled food. According to the article, it could be weeks before foodborne illness strikes. It doesn't necessarily have to have been caused by your last meal.
Moreover, neither freezing nor reheating food that's been sitting out for too long will kill the bacteria that causes food poisoning. Bacteria can survive heat as well as freezing temperatures. Another common myth: the five-second rule. If a piece of your steak falls on the floor, it's best not to eat it.
Contrary to what some may believe, foodborne illness doesn't only cause an upset stomach. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care in Canada details the symptoms of food poisoning, such as fever, diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting and nausea. These are signs that you may have consumed spoiled meat. If they persist, you may have to consult your doctor.
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- Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Basics for Handling Food Safely"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "The Color of Meat and Poultry"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "How Temperatures Affect Food"
- Ontario Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long Term Care: "Food Safety"
- Washington State Department of Health: "Food Safety Myths"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "How to Cut Food Waste and Maintain Food Safety"