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.

sizzling 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 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 the 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 it’s 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 on the meat that leads to the 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 causes slime formation on meat.

It is best to dispose of spoiled bacon immediately before it contaminates your other meat products. 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 from produce respiration.
  3. Always keep your bacon in a refrigerator or a freezer. Unopened bacon will last for one to two weeks in the refrigerator 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 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 of 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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Sign up and get instant access to my free eBook. Learn the shelf life of 21 specific foods, the signs of spoiled foods, and how to store them properly to keep them fresh longer.


65 thoughts on “How to Tell If Bacon Is Bad: 3 Easy Ways to Find Out”

  1. Out of date bacon, unopened in crisper that was 5 months past date. Smelled and looked fine. Cooked it and all was fine.

  2. I’m in and out of town throughout the year, so while I try and ration / eat all my perishables prior to trips, sometimes I end up leaving bacon in the fridge and freezer for 6 months or more if it’s hidden in there. My rule of thumb is that a LITTLE bit of graying is okay. If the red turns to a light pink or looks SLIGHTLY gray, it’s still safe as long as it doesn’t turn blue or green. I’ve found when cooking bacon at the very end of its lifespan, it cooks slower for some reason, and has a hint of a stale taste, but is perfectly safe for me. Worst thing that’s ever happened is a little bit of diarrhea, nothing extreme. After it starts smelling funky though, that’s a recipe for vomiting and food poisoning. A friend of mine are some bacon he had left in the freezer for a full 12 months, and that was the case for him.

    Longest I recommend for unopened bacon, if immediately frozen, should still be great at the 7 / 8 month mark. 9 months and it starts getting risky.

    1. i finished my bacon that ive stored in the fridge for a month. i checked the expiration date as i was throwing out the package and it read Jan 01, 2021. I ate it last week and was fine. No side effects.

    1. Yeah, if you stab a pig, there is no pink there at all! Pigs are naturally BRIGHT TEAL BLUE inside! WIth YELLOW and MAUVE spots! Stop painting our bacon PINK with CHEMICALS!!!

  3. Mine was about 5 months expired. It looked and smelled great and just sat in the drawer of my fridge pushed all the way to the back since purchased. Fat was white and meat was pink with no slime or bad smell. Cooked it in the oven at 450 for 25 minutes flipping once made sure it was well cooked and a little on the crunchier side. Definitely had an off taste to it like a tiny bit sour. Some of the pieces tasted worse than others. Ended up feeding it to the dogs for the most part. Now I wait to see if I’ve been infected. If I survive I will post back.

    1. I’m going to assume you’ve become a zombie, since you haven’t reported back. If you can read this, I will avoid expired bacon for sure! I’m curious to know if your animals also turned into zombie.

    2. I just ate some bacon that had been frozen then thawed in fridge for month or so. Expiration date was August 2021, still looked pink and white, no smell, not slimy, cooked in microwave. Hoping we don’t get sick. How long after eating would symptoms of getting sick arise. Going to throw the rest away. Did not have a bad taste at all. Grease was like always clear.

  4. The six months expired bacon in my fridge got me to google search this page and since the bacon didn’t have any of the signs named on this page I started to cook it but it didn’t sizzle and after a minute the grease in the pan looked grey/blue so I threw it out. However this unopened bacon that expired six months ago really looked and felt fine – pink and white, smelled normal and not slimy or sticky – but it was surely contaminated.

  5. Bacon should never go bad….it should all be eaten up at once before it even has a chance lol #dontwastethebacon

  6. What’s wrong with y’all? Who keeps bacon long enough for it to go bad? Sure aren’t any die-hard bacon lovers here.

  7. I really hope some of these are trolls… I dunno how I got to the comments, but I’m genuinely concerned for some of y’all’s health. I am terrified of any raw meat that’s been in the fridge for longer than 3 days and some of y’all are eating meat from 2016?! Oof I hope y’all are alive.

    1. Bacon is not raw meat. It has been cured with salt, sodium nitrate, and maybe sodium nitrite. This helps keep the meat last and helps keep it pink.

      Organic and “uncured” bacon is still cured. It’s just that the nitrates come from organic sources, mainly celery. The synthetic nitrates are limited to somewhere between 120 and 200 parts per million (0.012% to 0.02%). The nitrates from celery, beets, etc. are not regulated and usually occur at higher levels.

  8. How long can I keep cooked bacon in the fridge? I was going to freeze it after cooking but time got away from me. Is it too late to freeze it now?

  9. Mine is in the pan now, decided to look this up since it was a little slick when putting it in the pan. Looks ok though. Will cook raspberry-walnut pancakes in the grease afterwards, so I’m all in.

  10. I have a package of Boars Head bacon I got on markdown sell date January 7th 2021.Kept in fridge since purchasing.It is about to be January 17th 2021.Is it still safe to cook&consume?

  11. I purchased two packages of Jimmy Dean bacon yesterday. I took it from the store’s refrigerated case at 4 pm.

    When I got home, I took the supermarket plastic bag with the two sealed packs in it and hung it on my basement door knob, so I’d see it and bring it downstairs to my basement freezer.

    At 4AM in bed I realized I never put it away, and so went downstairs and put it in my freezer.

    My home is at 65 degrees, and it was left out for 12 hrs – sealed. I am going to keep it sealed in my freezer for many months as I have some older packs I want to use first.

    Is it safe to use these in a few months? My freezer will keep them very cold, probably at 0 degrees.


    1. Hi Bob, that’s a bit tricky to say because the bacon was out at room temperature for 12 hours and harmful bacterias can multiply between 40 to 140 °F, which is defined as the danger zone. You could, however, leave the bacon in your freezer until you are ready to use. Thaw one pack in the refrigerator first and see if it’s gone bad. If there’s any sign of spoilage, I’d suggest you toss it. Hope that’s helpful.

  12. I just found a package dated sell by 2011, still sealed, still pink and white smells good, cooked normally (Fed it to the dogs.) Why still here, my wife bought it and put it in the fridge (She got sick and passed, Dementia). I seldom cook at 81. Dogs are fine.

  13. I left some bacon on the bench for 3 weeks. Found a bunch of flies on it a few times and just sprayed it with fly spray for 10 seconds each time. I also got a bit of bleach on it while giving the sink a scrub but figured it wasn’t a big deal. It was pretty close to black and it had been moving on it’s own. Cooked it up tonight with some eggs and chowed down. Tasted a little off but still good.

  14. I’ve cooked my pack of bacon medallions and then stored them in an airtight container in the freezer. I took one piece out to use it this morning and noticed small white circles on some of the frozen cooked bacon slices. Is that just fat or has the bacon gone off? I cooked the bacon soon after buying it and once cooked froze it straight away.

  15. 1 week? LOL. I’ve eaten bacon that’s package was opened but sealed again well that sat for over 30 days in fridge. Bacon doesn’t go bad easy. Look, smell amd feel yes! Im eating 39 day old bacon as I speak. Quit wasting food!

  16. Yeah look stuff like this up before u ear it like Duhhhhh! I have an opened pkg of bacon been in the fridge between 11/2 and 2 weeks. Going to inspect it now. ……,it looks good smells fine. I will do a feeel test for slime b4 I make my final decision whether or not toeat it

  17. Cooking slightly discolored bacon, only slightly darker around the edges, really pink and white in center. Prolly be fine.

  18. Seems like about 1 in 5 packs of bacon has that awful sour smell and I cook bacon immediately after buying from store.

  19. Yeah, me. To cook or not to cook it? That is the question. Fresh Market, deli bacon, 2 weeks in the fridge, I am so nervous!

  20. There were some worms (but just the tiny ones!) wriggling in my bacon and it was a bit of a greyish yellow. My cats have been urinating everywhere so I can’t really comment on the smell. Though it wasn’t stored in the fridge it was kept in the dark confines of my brother’s old sleeping bag when we went camping last summer. I ate it twenty minutes ago so I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

      1. Not true! You can kill active pathogens by cooking (pasteurizing) – but that doesn’t destroy the toxins that they’ve already created. It’s the toxins (read POISON) that make you sick!

  21. Pork ribs cut to short rib, 6days old,some of it’s fat is bluish. Don’t smell bad. I salted it real good to draw anything bad out hopefully. Then I will rinse and cook it well done and hope I don’t get sick

  22. Yeah it states it just a few weeks out of best consume date, and it’s been refrigerated and been in an sealed packaging. Doesn’t smell bad and only one has light discoloration. We shall see! 🧐

  23. Our. Bacon dudnt smell bad and still lookef pink but it was a little slimy. Gave me diarrhea and heart burn. My daughter vomited.

    1. Slime is a prime sign of lactic acid bacteria such as Leuconostoc. This usually can be contributed by poor sanitation of an employee or piece of equipment somewhere in the process. Although it will give you a bad night on the toilet and a tummy ache it is not life threatening. Best practice, if you open a package of bacon and see ropy or sticky slime formation (or any packed processed meat product really) return it to the store and ask for a refund, or at the very least report it to the manufacturer. Problems need to be pointed out so processors can address them.

  24. Just ate bacon that I found in the freezer with a JUN 2016 use by / freeze by date. Smaeled funky when cooking but I think that may have been the “maple flavoring”. I feel fine. If I get sick I will post later.

      1. I’m his next door neighbor and I saw him choking but I thinks is just his wife’s bad cooking hahah lol lol hahaha lol

  25. Haha I think I’m the only one here whos managed to catch their bacon before turning bad… Still has pink color to it .smells okay… Not slimey. I was just paranoid… But don’t worry I’ll edit this if I get diarrhea later.

  26. I guess that I am one of those strange men that actually looked this stuff up BEFORE I ate the questionable bacon. On a lighter note,…How do you tell if your bacon has gone bad? If it’s wearing a black leather jacket with steel spikes.

  27. My bacon was a bit gray in color, but I ate it anyway. It didn’t taste bad, but now I am very nauseous and trying to hold back from vomiting. I am at work….ugh

  28. Well our house smells like animal urine all of a sudden and my hubby ate a piece of the rotten (but cooked) bacon. So looks like our day is going to get interesting.

    1. Yes I thought it was a little slimy when I put it in the frying pan. And I been nauseated for a couple of hours.

        1. That’s what I’m doing. Bacon has been in the fridge unopened for a couple of weeks and am debating. I didn’t freeze it because I planned to use it within a few days after I bought it but just didn’t. Looks perfectly fine, nice & pink and the fat is white but I haven’t opened it yet to smell or check further.
          So—-read all this and still debating if it’s worth trying it or just toss it to be safe? Hmmmm…..

          1. Same thing with me! Had it in the fridge unopened for 3 weeks but it looks pink and the fat is white…use-by date is October 18, 2019! I was going to use it the next day after I bought it but forgot about it and just now found it again! Did you eat yours? If so did anything happen? If you could please respond that would be great…thank you! 🙂

    2. As I was cooking my bacon this morning, something seemed off. The first red flag was that it pulled apart when I tried to take the meat out of the open package. “Must be tender” I thought. The second red flag was the greenish hue that faded into a dull grey across the whole piece of meat. Again, I thought “I’m not a meat expert, and it doesn’t even smell bad.” So, I continued on. After cooking the heck out of it (just in case), I put it on a plate and noticed that the green hue survived the intense heat. That’s when I went to google and found this thread. I was eating my bacon as I read about others’ experiences, and finally I was persuaded to throw it away. Thank you, everyone, for your support and vulnerability. I might get sick, but I’d be more sick without you.

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