How to tell if bacon is bad: is bacon still good when it turns brown? There are three easy ways to find out if bacon has gone bad, plus tips on how to properly store bacon.

Bacon for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? No problem. Bacon is just so good you can also use it as a topping, or in snacks and meals. There’s no denying the love we have for this piece of meat.

Bacon is one of the most popular meat products out there. An American eats an average of 18 pounds of bacon annually.

The National Pork Board said that more than half (53%) of the households in America have bacon on hand in the kitchen. It has become so natural to have bacon in the kitchen all the time. Does bacon go bad? Yes. If not stored properly, bacon will spoil in a span of seven days after the sell-by date.

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Signs of Spoiled Bacon

Like other protein or meat products on the market, bacon usually has a sell-by date label instead of an expiration date. Because of this, you may still consume your bacon even after the sell-by date has passed. Is your bacon still good for consumption though? What does spoiled bacon look like?

It is easy to tell if your bacon has gone bad. Here are three ways to know if bacon is bad:

1. Look

Your bacon is still safe if it still has its natural pink color with the fat being white or yellow. If your bacon has turned brown or gray with a tinge of green or blue, that one has spoiled already. Too much exposure to air causes a chemical reaction in the meat that leads to a change in color.

2. Smell

Fresh bacon will always have its natural meaty smell. Your bacon is spoiled if it smells sour, fishy, rotting, or just really unpleasant. Bacteria growth and rancidity can make bacon smell nasty.

3. Touch

Good bacon is soft, fresh, and moist. Bad bacon feels slimy to the touch and has a sticky sheen around it. Lactic acid bacteria cause slime formation on meat.

Disposal of spoiled bacon immediately before it contaminates your other meat products is best. Make sure to wrap it up with plastic and throw it out to prevent the smell from spreading throughout your kitchen.

Baked French Fries with Chowder and Bacon

What Happens If You Eat Bad Bacon

Any bad meat, including spoiled bacon, has a high risk of containing large amounts of bacteria including Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Bacillus, Clostridium, and Escherichia coli. Spoiled bacon will taste sour due to bacteria forming on it. What happens if you accidentally eat bad bacon? Food poisoning.

Symptoms of food poisoning may include nausea and vomiting. You may also experience abdominal pain, fever, headache, and body aches.

Many cases of food poisoning resolve on their own without any specific treatment. However, in some cases, people develop severe symptoms and complications like severe abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, severe dehydration, high fever, and extreme drowsiness. It is best to consult your doctor if you suspect food poisoning to get proper treatment.

How to Properly Store Bacon

Here are some tips to follow if you decide to stock up with some bacon, uncooked and cooked.

To Store Uncooked Bacon:

  1. Examine your bacon before buying. Always check the sell-by date to make sure you’re getting the freshest product.
  2. Wrap your opened bacon with paper towels before storing them. These towels will absorb the moisture to produce respiration.
  3. Always keep your bacon in a refrigerator or a freezer. Unopened bacon will last for one to two weeks in the fridge and for six to eight months in the freezer. Opened and uncooked bacon will last for one week in the refrigerator and up to six months in the freezer.
  4. To maximize the shelf life of your opened bacon, store it in a resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  5. Check your bacon regularly. If not stored properly bacon will go bad. If it has spoiled, discard it immediately to prevent contaminating other products.

To Store Cooked Bacon:

  • Properly stored cooked bacon will last up to four or five days in the refrigerator and for two to three months in the freezer.
  • To ensure the quality and safety of cooked bacon, store it in shallow airtight containers or wrap it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Despite our tremendous love for bacon, there is always the concern of it being unhealthy. Bacon has a bad reputation for containing plenty of fats that cause high cholesterol leading to serious health conditions. However, some may argue that bacon is actually healthy for you. But of course, anything that is too much can be bad. When eaten in the right proportion, the health benefits will outweigh all the downsides associated with bacon.

How to tell if bacon is bad: is bacon still good when it turns brown? There are three easy ways to find out, plus tips on how to properly store bacon.

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About the Author

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and a sous vide fanatic who believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she's on a mission to help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.