Pork can be a delicious source of protein that can be prepared in so many delicious ways. Yet, if stored or cooked incorrectly, you could become seriously ill.
As a general rule, pork that is still good for consumption is pink in color and is moist but not slimy. Also, take note of the smell. Any sour or off smells is a sign that your pork has gone bad.
To avoid getting you or your loved ones sick, make sure you store and prepare your pork correctly.
How do you know if the pork you’re about to cook has gone bad? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest giveaways below.
3 Ways You Know Your Pork Has Gone Bad
As bacteria multiply and grow on your pork, they affect the chemical and structural make up of your meat. This means that the smell, color and texture of your pork changes. Those are the three main ways you can know if your pork has gone bad: color, smell and texture.
Your raw pork should be a pinkish color. If you see any signs of mold or any meat has begun to turn gray, then it’s time to throw your pork out.
If you see white, that’s generally an ok sign. Pork’s fat tends to marbleize and is white in color. However, if that fat has started to turn yellowish or grayish it could be a sign that your pork is turning bad.
Color is not always the easiest way to tell if pork has gone by as many good cuts of pork can have many color variations. When in doubt, go to your second indicator: smell.
One of the easiest ways to tell if your pork has gone bad is by giving it a good sniff. For good pork, there should be little to no discernable smell. As pork goes bad, a sour or ammonia-like smell will intensify.
If you’re still unsure, try a texture test. Raw pork should be moist, but not overly so. Pick up the raw pork. If it is a slimy film it has most likely turned bad.
Fresh meat also tends to be firm to the touch. Look for inconsistencies in the firmness or texture of your pork as you handle it.
After handling raw pork of any kind, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, regardless of whether it is good or bad. This ensures dangerous bacteria are not consumed or transfered to other food or surfaces as you prepare your meals.
How To Ensure You Don’t Eat Or Cook Bad Pork
There are other ways to keep you and your loved ones safe from consuming bad pork by keeping bad pork out of your kitchen and off your plates. Additional ways to prevent pork from spoiling include checking the expiration date, ensuring it is stored and transported correctly, and cooking it thoroughly.
Be Sure To Check The Expiration Date
When preparing to cook your pork, be sure to always check the expiration or sell by date. Most store-bought pork will include a sell by date and/or an expiration date. This date is a general guideline that tells the grocery store that this meat may no longer be safe to sell, but a sell by date does not necessarily mean the pork is unsafe to consume.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the sell by date seriously. After double checking your sell by or expiration date, don’t forget to also pay close attention to the indicators above to see if your meat is safe to consume. Consuming bad pork can be extremely detrimental to your health and could even land you a hospital visit.
How To Tell if Raw Pork Has Gone Bad?
As a whole, you can tell if raw pork has gone bad due to a sour smell, major changes in meat color and a slim that may grow over the meat’s surface.
It is also important that you bring your pork home from the store correctly to ensure that it doesn’t spoil before you get a chance to put it in the fridge or prepare it. If you do not plan to cook pork immediately, make sure to store it in your refrigerator or freezer correctly and quickly.
What Does Bad Pork Smell Like Cooked?
If your pork was already starting to turn bad before you cooked it, that sour smell we’ve mentioned above will get even worse as the meat heats and cooks. If you have any reservations at all that your pork may be bad, it’s time to toss it.
How Long Can You Keep Pork In the Fridge?
Besides taking note of the expiration or sell by date, it’s important to know how long raw pork can be kept safely in a refrigerator or freezer.
How long your pork lasts can depend on the cut. Pork chops, ground pork, and pork loins can all remain good for between 2 to 3 days in the correct refrigeration. If you freeze your pork and keep it in an airtight container at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit it can last between 4 to 12 months. Cooked pork can stay good for about a week in your fridge.
These are all general guidelines based on a steady refrigerated temperature and lack of power outages. If a power outage occurs or your fridge door is left open, it’s time to toss your meat.
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What Happens If You Eat Expired Pork?
There are many unpleasant consequences that you will suffer if you eat expired or bad pork, although these symptoms will vary between different people and will also vary in intensity.
On average, eating expired pork will cause the following symptoms:
- Stomach Cramps
- Abdominal Bloating
Less frequently occurring symptoms can include:
- Skin Rash
- Blurry Vision
- Muscle Aches
- Double Vision
Harmful bacteria that have grown and collected on your pork as it went bad will now be calling your stomach and intestinal tract home.
These bacterial infections linked to bad or undercooked pork typically will show food poisoning symptoms within two to six hours after consuming the contaminated pork. However, it could take up to four to seven days after eating the pork to show signs of sickness.
How To Tell If Cooked Pork Is Done
We all like a juicy, tender cut of pork. But finding the safest temperature to cook your pork before overcooking it and losing these moist qualities can be difficult. This is especially true with pork as cuts are often lean and can be easily overcooked if you aren’t careful.
For fresh pork, the recommended internal temperature for cooked pork is 145 degrees for muscle cuts such as loins, chops and roasts. For ground pork, the recommended internal temperature is 165 degrees.
There are numerous digital cooking thermometers on the market today to check internal temps of meat that you can utilize. Don’t guess. It’s better to be safe than sorry and sick.
How To Prevent Premature Spoilage
You get home and you’re ready to put your pork chops on the grill, only to find that the pork you just pulled out of the fridge fails the smell, color and texture test. What could have gone so wrong that your pork that you just bought yesterday went bad?
Make sure that you store your pork in an airtight container, whether it’s in the fridge or the freezer. Do not leave your pork out on a counter or other area where the pork can warm to room temperatures. That’s when bacteria can thrive.
You can also prevent premature spoilage by properly transporting your pork from the store. If you don’t live close to your grocery store, invest in storage bags that will seal and lock in cold temps to ensure your pork stays cold before being stored at your home.
Also, immediately put your pork in the fridge or freezer once you get home or to your final destination. Don’t leave it on a counter or in your car for more than a few minutes or your chances of spoiling increase.
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How Do You Safely Defrost Pork?
There are three ways to safely and efficiently defrost pork before you cook it.
In general, the safest ways to defrost pork are:
1. In the Fridge
The safest and easiest way to defrost pork is to simply take the frozen pork and place it in the refrigerator.
2. In Cold Water
You can also safely defrost pork by placing it in an airtight bag or container and place it in cold water.
3. In the Microwave
Read your microwave instructions carefully to ensure that you do not prematurely cook your pork while you defrost it in the microwave. Different times and settings are used depending on the wattage of your microwave.
No matter which option you choose, do not attempt to defrost your pork at room temperature. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, doing so could put your pork in the food “danger zone” of 40 degrees F to 140 F which is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria growth.