From bacon-infused bourbon to bacon-flavored seasoning, it feels like nothing can’t be made better with bacon. For the last few years, people have become obsessed with bacon, and the hype is here to stay.
But like any other meat, bacon doesn’t last forever – even if you store it in the freezer. After buying it, it will only last for a few days before it becomes a slimy mess.
Bad bacon may contain huge amounts of bacteria, including Salmonella and Escherichia Coli, that cause food poisoning. So, you shouldn’t eat bad bacon.
But how do you tell if the bacon is actually bad? This post will provide you with five methods to tell if your bacon has gone bad and more.
Feel free to jump ahead!
How do I tell when the bacon is bad?
We all have been in this dilemma: it’s too early in the morning or late at night, and you feel hungry. But then, you can’t go to the store for one reason or another, and the only meal you can do is bacon.
But as you approach your refrigerator, you try to remember the last time you bought bacon. You turn to Google to check how you can tell if your bacon is bad.
If you bump into this article, it’s your lucky day. Here are five ways you can tell if the bacon is bad:
Smell the bacon
A piece of fresh bacon will have a natural meaty smell. Thus, if you smell a sour, fishy, rotting, or unpleasant odor in your bacon, the chances are that it has gone bad.
If you question the smell, the possibility is that the bacon has started to deteriorate. If that’s the case, it’s best thrown out.
Taste the bacon
Although not recommended, you may taste the bacon to tell when it is bad. Spoiled bacon will be sour due to the bacteria forming on it.
Check the expiry date
This is perhaps the easiest way to tell when this piece of meat is bad. If the indicated ‘use by’ date has expired, it’s not safe to eat the bacon. Only use the bacon within seven days of purchase to be on the safe side.
You can also thaw and cook the bacon within four months of freezing the meat.
Note: Please do not confuse the ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell by’ dates. The first is the manufacturer’s expiration date, while the latter is the store’s guidance date.
The ‘Sell by’ date can have passed, but the bacon is safe for consumption. However, make sure that the bacon has no other signs of poor storage before consuming it.
Look at the bacon
You can tell if the bacon is bad by just looking at it. A slice of fresh bacon should have the color pink and be bright. The meet should also have white (or sometimes yellowish) fat.
If your meat looks dull, is turning gray-brown, or has noticed green dots on it, then it’s turning bad. If that’s the case, throw the meat away in a safe manner.
Feel the bacon
You can also tell if the bacon is bad by touching it. If the piece of meat feels slimy when you touch it, then the chances are that it has spoiled.
If that’s the case, throw it out safely and wash your hands. You may have carried the bacteria and transferred it into your body when you eat something.
What does bad bacon look like?
- A spoiled bacon will lose its color and freshness, looking dull. It will turn brown, grey or have green spots.
- The bacterial growth may appear as black or green dots.
What happens if I eat bad bacon?
Bacon may go bad in two ways; the first is through the bacterial growth, which makes it dangerous to consume, and the second is rancidity that makes it smell nasty.
And although high temperatures may kill the bacteria, some can survive cooking, making you sick when you consume them. Specifically, eating bad bacon means that you’re consuming E. Coli, Toxoplasmosis, Listeria and Yersinia, Campylobacter, etc., all that cause food poisoning.
You can also develop trichinosis disease, which arises when you eat undercooked pork products.
The symptoms of food poisoning include fever, diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pains, etc. So, don’t mess with spoiled bacon unless you’re ready to suffer these symptoms.
How do I properly store the bacon?
If you want your bacon to stay long in the refrigerator or freezer, you need to store it properly. And the best way to do this is by an airtight container such as glass, an unopened package or a plastic container.
To store the opened bacon pieces, wrap them in aluminum foil or put them in a zip-top bag. You can then store it in the freezer or fridge, as discussed below.
Storing in the fridge:
The opened bacon pieces can be stored in an airtight container such as their original package, glass container, in a zip-top bag or several layers of aluminum foils.
The opened bacon may stay in this condition for about seven days storing in a refrigerator. On the other hand, the cooked bacon should be stored in an air-tight container, which will last for 4-5 days.
The unopened bacon package may last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If your bacon goes past this timespan, throw it out.
Storing in the freezer:
You may also store the unopened bacon packet in a freezer. You can freeze your bacon for up to 1-4 months at 0ºF/-17ºC or lower.
But frozen bacon loses its quality and flavors after the first 1-2 months. This is so because rancidity still develops in the freezer.
To protect your bacon from going bad, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or several layers of plastic wrap, squeeze the air in the package and store it in the freezer.
The air trapped in a container is what makes the bacon go bad.
You can also freeze raw, opened bacon by placing it in a zip-top bag, squeezing the air that may be trapped in the bag then sliding it in the freezer.
Cooked bacon can be stored in the freezer by arranging the strips between layers of paper towel, placing it on a large zip-top bag, and then placing it in the freezer. You’re also advised to do away with the air trapped inside the container or other material.
To thaw this piece of meat, relocate it to the fridge, and leave it to rest there overnight. The bacon may be on a container or inside a zip-top bag and using cold, running water to defrost it.
You may also use the defrost function on your microwave, but don’t leave it for more than 5 minutes. What’s more, don’t leave the package unattended to prevent any dangers of burning plastics.
Note: although bacon may last for several months in the freezer, the Food Marketing Institute advises people to preserve it for a shorter period to enjoy its quality and flavor.
How long can bacon sit out?
Cooked or uncooked bacon should not rest out of the fridge or freezer (at room temperature) for more than 2 hours. Bacteria thrive best at a temperature ranging from 40 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, or basically room temperature.
If you leave your bacon at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you should throw it out.
How long does bacon grease last?
If stored in an airtight glass or plastic container, the leftover bacon grease should last in the fridge for up to 6 months and nine months in the freezer. After this period, the grease will develop a rancid odor and mold visible signs.
If this happens, you should throw it out!
Shopping for bacon
If you want your bacon to stay longer before going bad, you’ll want to shop for the perfect piece. Here are a few tips to help you shop bacon that lasts:
Buy bacon as the last item
Eliminate the time you’ll take between selecting the bacon and the check-out counter. Also, once you’ve bought the bacon, head direct home and place it in the refrigerator.
Buy the bacon with as few ingredients as possible
The additives in the bacon may be why it goes bad for a short period. Plus, the extra preservatives and chemicals may not be good for your health.
So, aim for bacon with four ingredients, including pork, salt, water, brown sugar, etc.
Don’t be a prey of the ‘no nitrates’ sticker
This is just a marketing language but doesn’t mean that the bacon doesn’t have nitrates. Instead of sodium nitrate, they use celery, which has loads of nitrates.
The bottom line
Bacon for dinner, lunch or breakfast? No problem. This piece of meat is so good that you can use it in meals, snacks, or toppings.
Our love for this piece of meat is so obvious. It is among the most popular meat products in the market, with the average American consuming over 18 pounds of bacon each year.
The sizzle, crackle, taste and aroma of the bacon could be the reason why people love it so much. Few types of meat, let alone foods, inspire as much excitement and enthusiasm as bacon.