Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it makes sense to have ground breakfast sausage with it, right?
However, it can be scary to dive into a new pack if you aren’t sure if it’s actually safe to eat!
Because of that fear, we’ve put together an article that goes through 4 easy ways to tell if ground breakfast sausage is bad – you’re welcome!
By the end of this, you will know everything you need to be sure that you’re eating good ground breakfast sausage.
If you’re looking for a quick answer, you should consider the smell, coloring, and texture of your breakfast sausage to tell if it’s off.
You should also take a look at the expiration date! Good ground breakfast sausage won’t have a gray or brown coloring, and it will smell like regular meat.
Let’s get into it!
4 Easy Ways to Tell if Ground Breakfast Sausage Is Bad
All sausages, except for the dry ones, are perishable. They typically only have a shelf life of a few days, but this can depend on how they are stored.
Any perishable sausage should always be either refrigerated or frozen according to the USDA.
If you eat breakfast sausage that’s gone bad, you have a very high chance of becoming sick and experiencing food poisoning.
This can be extremely unpleasant and even dangerous. Because of this, it is crucial that you ensure that all your food is still good to eat and hasn’t gone off.
Luckily for us, when it comes to breakfast sausage, there are a number of easy ways to tell if it’s still good to eat or not.
We will go through each of these in the sections below, and cover some extra stuff afterwards, too!
1. The Smell Will Be Gross
If the sausage is out of the bag or container, you will probably notice the smell very quickly.
To some, google ground breakfast sausage smells great, to others it’s gross. Either way, when your ground breakfast sausage has gone off, you will notice it real quick.
Your breakfast sausage will go from having a milk and meaty smell (and more depending on the seasoning) to rancid.
The smell isn’t something that you can be confused about, because it’s pungent and just smells spoiled.
This smell is actually from the increased amounts of bacteria in the ground breakfast sausage.
There are several kinds of bacteria, but the most common include Lactobacillus spp. and Pseudomonas spp. You don’t want to mess with these, so if you notice a bad smell, throw it away immediately!
There’s no salvaging a product that has already started to go off, and it’s never worth trying to eat it. Throw it away and make other plans.
2. The Coloring Will Be Off
This is probably the quickest way to determine if your breakfast sausage is still good to eat, especially if it’s still in the packet.
The color of the meat will tell you everything you need to know about it! A good breakfast sausage that’s high quality will be bright pink or red.
The red actually comes from oxymyoglobin and oxygen reacting!
This creates the stunning coloring that’s present on the outside of the sausage. Inside, it will usually be a more gray color, but it still shouldn’t look disgusting.
If you see a brown or gray color on the outside of the breakfast sausage, you will instantly know that something is up.
This is a surefire sign that the sausage is no longer good to eat and is too old. To be safe, you should throw discolored breakfast sausage away – it’s not worth becoming sick!
If the breakfast sausage has been left for a longer period of time, you might notice mold on it.
This will show up in fuzzy spots that are either blue, green or gray. It doesn’t matter if the sausage is cooked or raw, mold is a no-go. Throw it out!
3. The Texture Will Be Different
The third telltale sign is the texture. Now, hopefully it doesn’t get anywhere near your mouth for you to notice this!
Good ground breakfast sausage will have that typical texture we’re all familiar with, and it will be pretty firm. If you pulled it apart, it would break away easily, even if you just squeezed the meat.
However, if you have spoiled ground breakfast sausage on your hands, this is another issue entirely.
You will probably notice a sticky or slimy consistency all over the surface of the meat. This will be from the build-up of the bacteria that’s accumulated on the meat’s surface.
Again, if you notice this, throw it away immediately. Once you throw it away, you will also need to wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap to get rid of any bacteria on your hands.
And the smell – if you handled it at all, the smell will probably stay on you until you wash thoroughly.
4. Check The Expiration Date!
Finally, the expiration date plays a big part in deciding whether you should eat your ground breakfast sausage or not. To a point, anyway.
If your breakfast has been frozen, then this date won’t mean anything to you, since all food items can technically be stored indefinitely if they are frozen.
That doesn’t mean that they should be stored indefinitely, though! Over time, their quality will diminish, so while they won’t go off, you definitely won’t want to eat it.
If you have fresh ground breakfast sausage that hasn’t been frozen, then this date is pretty important. Please bear in mind that all the dates you will find on anything you buy are only ever guidelines.
There is no hard and fast rule to say that you need to throw food out by the time it reaches that date. If that food looks perfectly safe and edible, then you shouldn’t let that date stop you!
With that being said, we should probably explain these dates a little more.
The “sell-by” date only indicates how long a particular item will actually be on display in a store.
You should never see products sitting on shelves that have passed their “sell-by” date! Generally, you should aim to eat your breakfast sausage within two days after the sell-by date has passed.
The “best before” or expiration date isn’t the day that the food goes off, either!
These dates are simply there to let you know that the food will be the “best” before that date. Up to that point, the product will keep all the quality and flavor.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t eat food items that have passed their best before date.
It only means that you should exercise caution to ensure that products that have passed this date are still fit for consumption.
Some products might not start to rot until a few days past their best before date, so do your due diligence when you’re dealing with this.
It should also be mentioned that some products will go off before their best before date! So, there’s no winning when it comes to food, really.
It pays to be sensible and always do your due diligence before jumping into a product to use.
With that being said, pay attention to the dates printed on the food’s packaging and try to consume your breakfast sausage soon after buying it.
If you do decide to freeze it, it’s recommended to eat it within four months. After that point, the quality will have dropped, and it might be unpleasant to eat.
Follow guidelines as best you can to ensure that the food you eat is always in good condition and won’t make you sick.
If you’re worried about not being able to have your ground breakfast sausage before the date passes, the best thing you can do is freeze it and use it later.
How Long Will Breakfast Sausage Stay Good For?
Now that you know what to look out for in spoiled breakfast sausage, you should know how to properly store it!
Since this food product is typically purchased when it is raw, it is perishable meat. This means that it will go off and needs to be refrigerated!
Non-perishable goods are typically canned goods and things like salted meats – no refrigeration required.
In this case, always refrigerate. If you do decide to refrigerate this food properly, it should store for between 2-5 days.
If freezing is your preferred option, then four months is typically your upper limit. Again, it will still be safe to eat past that point, but the quality will have deteriorated, and it may not be as pleasant.
Try to follow the “best before” date that is printed on the food product if you bought it at the supermarket. This is usually a safe bet.
You can ignore these guidelines completely if you choose to freeze it. Just make sure that you use the breakfast sausage within a day or two once you finally thaw it.
According to the USDA, raw ground breakfast sausage should maintain its freshness and quality for 1-2 days if it is stored correctly.
It should be kept in a refrigerator at 40 °F or less. If you are able to store the breakfast sausage below 0 °F and not break the cold-chain cycle, it will be safe to eat indefinitely.
Again, we wouldn’t recommend listening to the “indefinite” part for too long in reality.
The quality will deteriorate over time, and it won’t be too great to eat after two years in the freezer. Stick to under four months if you want the best results.
You can cook the ground breakfast sausage before freezing or refrigerating it to make it last even longer.
For quality, it’s stil given the upper recommendation of four months in a freezer. However, if refrigerated, cooked ground breakfast sausage can be kept for 3-4 days happily.
If you purchase pre-cooked ground breakfast sausage, you should be able to keep this refrigerated for up to one week.
That is, unless the packaging has other guidelines. In that case, you should always follow those guidelines.
How To Make Your Breakfast Sausage Last Longer
It’s always important to note that the shelf life guidelines given at supermarkets only really work when the cold-chain isn’t broken.
In other words, they expect you to put your ground breakfast sausage from one cold environment and directly into another. This simply isn’t the case in most scenarios.
Because of this, meat should always be the last thing that you add to your shopping cart before paying. You don’t want to wander around with meat in the cart while you could be in the store for another hour!
Alternatively, you can use an insulated shopping bag to keep things cool. This is especially advisable if you’re doing your grocery shopping on a warm day.
It’s crucial to keep all meat products as cool as possible, or else they will begin to spoil in under an hour in the heat.
Store them in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you get home, and make sure there are no holes in the packaging.
It’s advised to keep these kinds of products in an airtight container, too. This will help keep it fresh while also preventing cross contamination from happening.
You should also ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are at the correct temperatures for your food. Keep the devices clean, too, as this will help regulate temperatures more effectively.
When you’re cooking your breakfast sausage, make sure it has an internal temperature of 160 °F. That will mean that it is officially safe to eat, and the harmful bacteria will be dead.
Can You Safely Reheat Ground Breakfast Sausage?
Yes, it is! First, you will need to allow it to properly thaw. You can do this by simply leaving the frozen sausage in the refrigerator overnight to slowly thaw.
Once it is ready, you can reheat it. Heat it up by using a microwave, open, or stove top.
If you have left your sausage out for hours or even overnight, then you definitely SHOULD NOT be reheating it to eat it.
The food will be unsafe to eat, and no amount of heat can make it safe again.
What Can Happen if You Eat Ground Breakfast Sausage That’s Gone Bad?
This depends on you individually and how spoiled the food was. In most people, eating ground breakfast sausage (or any food) that’s gone bad will result in food poisoning.
In other words, lots of vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
Since no one enjoys that, you should just avoid any kind of spoiled food at all costs. It isn’t worth it!
Ground breakfast sausage is a staple in many households, but it’s also one of the foods that is very susceptible to going bad.
You can tell if your breakfast sausage has gone bad by paying attention to the appearance, smell, and texture of it.
If your breakfast sausage, which is usually red or pink, looks brown, gray, or moldy, don’t eat it.
Similarly, if it smells rancid rather than mild, don’t eat it. If your breakfast sausage looks slimy, we repeat, DO NOT EAT IT.
Store your food properly, and they will last longer, but always try to follow the guidelines that are printed out on the packaging.
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