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How to Tell if Pork Is Bad

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It doesn’t matter who you are, we have all been in that moment where the quiet realization passes over us that our butterfly chop dinner is about five days past edible.

Even worse is when you have to make the judgment call of wasting eight to twelve hard-earned dollars or potentially poisoning your loved ones with some very suspect cuts of tenderloin.

Well, your spouse and children can breathe a sigh of relief. We are going to go over everything you need to know in extensive detail about expired pork before you decide to fry up some slimy, alien gray pork chops.

The quickest and easiest way to tell if pork is bad is by trusting your unfailing sense of smell to see if it has an acrid, tart odor, even acidic.

Pork should never smell ‘off’ if it is safe to eat. If it doesn’t smell edible, it probably isn’t.

Cooking expired meat will almost always intensify the unpleasant aroma coming off the spoiled pork. Pork can be damp, but if it feels like a small militia of slugs were doing laps around the surface of the meat, toss it.

But the signs of expiration can vary heavily depending on the status of the meat. The storage of pork and the temperature it’s kept at are absolutely critical when it comes to keeping it fresh and safe to consume.

Below I will give you all the advice you need to keep your friends and family safe from spoiled pork.

Signs of Expiration

Raw Pork

With raw pork the number one giveaway, as said above, is the odor it gives off. Raw meat should not smell like rotting meat and the distinction is very easy to notice.

Raw pork that is good to eat should have a very pleasant pink color to it, while expired pork will begin to build up a gooey film on its surface and will start to turn gray or yellow considerably.

The meat feeling dried up or mushy are also telltale signs that its glory days have come and gone.

fresh raw pork steaks on chopping board

We have a rule of thumb in my house that if we buy pork we have to cook it up either that night or the day after, though it keeps in the fridge for about 2–4 days.

If you put it into a freezer it can stay good for 4–12 months, though you should make sure the freezer stays at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher, and the meat will age more quickly.

Don’t forget to avoid the “temperature danger zone” which consists of any temperature between 40–140 degrees Fahrenheit, where germs are more likely to grow on temperature-sensitive food.

Cooked Pork

Cooked meat can often be quite a bit harder to decipher than raw meat because the signs begin to become a bit harder to make out when the meat has already been prepared.

A few similar signs include the discoloration of the pork, that slimy film that begins to coat the exterior of the pork, a foul-smelling aroma emanating from the dish, and of course, mold. Textural changes are also a big red flag that the food should be tossed with extreme haste.

Cooked pork can be safely stored in the fridge for 2–3 days depending on how fresh it was prior to cooking and how well it is packaged in your fridge. The FDA recommends keeping cooked pork in your freezer for no more than three months (at or under 0 degrees Fahrenheit) to protect its quality and for the safe consumption of those ingesting it.

When cooking pork, you should always use a meat thermometer at the densest part of the meat to make sure it is cooked through at an even 145 degrees Fahrenheit (though some places will recommend 155°).

roasted pork slices with herb and potatoes on black plate

Tips To Keep Your Pork Fresh Longer

To avoid the internal shame that will inevitably overwhelm you when you have to toss out a few pounds of pork you never even had the pleasure of tasting, follow these quick tips to keep your pork cutlets at their most full-flavored.

  • Keep all of your meat and temperature-sensitive food outside of the Temperature Danger Zone (40–140 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Refrigerate or freeze your pork as quickly as possible to keep it from becoming susceptible to microbial contamination.
  • Remove the pork from the package it comes in, wipe it off then place it in an hermetically-sealed glass or plastic container in the lower part of your refrigerator (or freezer) where it can stay cold and safe from bacteria.
  • Always keep raw meat at the lowermost part of your fridge to keep other items in your fridge from being contaminated.
  • Check the expiration date on the cut of pork you want before buying it, sometimes you can find expiry dates much further out hidden underneath the first layer of meats.
  • While you can cook pork anytime within its shelf life, the quicker you cook it after purchasing it, the better it is likely to taste.
  • Outliers exist and even if your meat says it’s within its freshness window, you should always doublecheck for yourself as there could have been an error in how it was packaged or the storage container could have been pierced in transit.
  • If a package of meat has excess air inside or bloating in the wrapping this is a sign of microbial contamination as the gases released internally typically come from the bacteria that grows on meat.

    Pay close attention to the quality and condition of the pork container to ensure that the meat you are buying was handled and shipped safely.
man hands taking out frozen pork from the freezer


With the information provided, you no longer have to concern yourself with the unintended danger you are posing to your family by throwing a slime-covered roast onto the skillet.

As long as you identify the rancid smell, slimy exterior, and discoloration present on rotten food you should have little issue keeping it well away from the dinner table.

By utilizing proper storage and maintaining a safe temperature for the meat you can save a few bucks that would have otherwise gone to waste and save yourself the displeasure of a very serious case of Trichinosis!