How to Know if Beef Cubes Are Bad

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Beef is tricky when it comes to telling whether or not it’s safe to eat or it’s spoiled. But, before you just risk it, it's important to know the signs of spoiled beef -- especially if you don’t want to make yourself or your dinner guests sick. Meat typically spoils from bacteria, air exposure or mold. If the meat smells questionable, chances are good it's time to throw it out.

Use By Dates

  • Meat from the grocery store has a use by or sell by date printed on the label. This date is an estimate of when the beef cubes are likely to start spoiling if kept in a refrigerator. If the beef cubes are one to two days past this date, it’s likely safe to eat. Most steak can be safely refrigerated for a few days up until the use by date. If frozen, beef cubes are safe to eat six to eight months past the use by date, although the beef may be dry.

Smell

  • Spoiled beef cubes have a distinct smell that lets you know they’re no longer good to eat. The smell is reminiscent of ammonia and not fresh. Smell your beef cubes and if they smell bad or unpleasant in any way, throw them out.

Feel

  • Touch the beef cubes with a clean finger. Any slime or sticky residue on the surface of the meat might indicate it is no longer good. Slime on the meat’s surface typically indicates bacteria. Note, a small amount of slimy film doesn’t necessarily mean your meat has spoiled, especially if it is packaged in natural juices or preserving liquid. Look for excessive slime or sticky residue in conjunction with the other signs of spoiled meat before you toss it out.

Color

  • Beef cubes that are brown or discolored are not necessarily spoiled. Changes in color are normal for any fresh product, notes U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is because the myoglobin from the cow’s blood is exposed to air, giving beef that bright red color. Due to the lack of oxygen on the interior, some beef cubes may have a grayish-brown interior, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the meat is spoiled. The age, sex and diet of the cow also influences the color of the meat. Older and more exercised cows have darker meat than younger, inactive cows. There might be a change in color that indicates spoilage, especially if the meat’s natural red color has faded, you see deep brown throughout the meat, graying, green or black patches.

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