Bacon Is Brown But Smells Okay: Safe to Eat?

Bacon Is Brown But Smells Okay

One thing you want to do if your bacon has been sitting in the refrigerator for a while is to ensure it is still safe to eat. Bacon is a favorite in many households but oftentimes, it can get pushed to the back of the fridge and after sitting there for a week, you may notice the color changing while it still smells okay, this does not mean your bacon has not gone bad.

Even though your bacon is cured with natural ingredients and also smoked, it does not mean it will stay fresh forever. It’s important that you know when to toss your bacon out as eating spoiled bacon is a sure way to spoil the rest of your day. But how do you know it is still safe to eat even though it smells okay?

Just like other meat produce in the market, your bacon should have a best-by-date label rather than an expiration date and this is often within a week. Bacon has an array of colors, from the signature red hue to shades of white to pale and deeper pinks. So, you might likely not be able to tell it has gone bad if the color simply changed to brown.

How long have you left your bacon in the fridge? Weeks? Days? Months? What are the signs that your bacon has gone bad? When spoiled, from texture, smell, and color, your bacon will change in these areas. Read on to find out if your bacon is still safe to eat and tips on how to properly store it.

close up photo of bacon
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

Signs That Bacon Has Gone Bad

Bacon comes with best by label date rather than an expiration date so it can still be consumed after it passed this date provided they are stored properly. However, the use-by date is when it reaches its quality which is why the USDA recommends throwing it away when it reaches the best-by date.

Bacon is so good that it’s pretty hard to let go of it so before you reach for that package, here are signs that it has gone bad and should be discarded.

1. Color

The color of bacon that is still safe to eat is naturally pink and red marbled with white fat. However, when this color changes to greenish-grey or turned brown with a tinge of blue or green then you should know it has spoiled already.

Bacon which has changed color has been exposed to air and bacteria which causes a reaction that leads to a change of color. Bacon that changes color should be tossed.

2. Sour Smell

A sour smell from your bacon will quickly alert you that it has gone bad. Fresh raw bacon will have its natural meaty and cooked will have a mild savory smell when it has gone bad, it will have a distinct sour smell. Open your bacon and give it a good sniff, if it smells even a bit off or rotten, you should discard it.

3. Slimy Texture

Good bacon should be fairly dry and rough in texture although it can be moist on the surface. Bacon that has gone bad on the other hand has a sticky sheen around it and feels slimy and vicious to the touch.

Spoiled bacon has an unpleasant and sticky texture to indicate that the lactic bacteria acid in it has broken down. Best to wrap it up and throw it out to prevent it from spending on other food items in your kitchen.

4. Use By Date

Bacon does not come with an expiry date, but you can always see the use-by date on the back of the packet. It is highly recommended that you do not eat bacon that has passed its best-by date. However, the sell-by date is different, and properly stored bacon can still be eaten seven days past its sell-by date.

Bacon Is Brown But Smells Okay: Safe to Eat?
image: Didriks // Wikimedia Commons

Bacon Is Brown But Smells Okay: Safe to Eat?

If you are unsure whether bacon is bad or not but it has been in your fridge for a very long time then it’s best not to eat it. If your bacon is brown but still smells okay, there is a high chance that bacteria is already forming on it

Change of color in your bacon is often a sign of spoilage but if it has been stored properly and there is no other sign of spoilage except a change of color to brown then it’s likely a lack of oxygen.

Oxygen is what is used to create the Mallard reaction which in turn is responsible for the color and taste of your bacon. If there is not enough oxygen, the proteins in your bacon will break down thereby leading to the brown color.

You need to be sure that bacon is sealed properly and there is no leak anywhere. Bacon will change color or go bad fast when bacteria enter it. If your bacon has been sitting in the refrigerator for a long while and it’s not well packaged, you may notice it takes on a brown hue, it is best to throw it out.

If there is any doubt about the freshness of your bacon, you should toss it out to err on the side of caution. Asides from the change of color, always check for any change in color, off-smell, and best-by dates.

How Long Does Bacon Last Before It Goes Bad?

Cooked bacon is stored in the fridge at 40⁰ F or below for 1 week while the uncooked one will last for 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge if it is stored properly. Bacon that is frozen will last for four months or longer but if you still want the quality intact then 4 months is the maximum, it would likely start deteriorating after this. Bacon will stay fresh for an amount of time based on how it’s been cooked.

Bacon is just like every other meat produce so it would go bad eventually. You should always check for any signs of spoilage before consuming. How you store your bacon will also determine how long it lasts.

How to Properly Store Bacon

Storage is important if you want your bacon to stay safe to each for a while.

Bacon needs to be stored in a cool dry place so store it in an air-tight container before placing it in the fridge. If you are looking to stock up on cooked and uncooked bacon, below are proper storage methods to keep it from getting spoiled.

  1. To store in the fridge, place your bacon in an air-tight container, plastic, glass container, or sealable freezer bag. Keep in the fridge at 40 degrees, keep cooked bacon for 7 days and unopened should last 1 to 2 weeks.
  2. If your bacon is already opened, you can wrap it with paper towels or aluminum foil, the towels can help absorb grease to produce respiration and keep it from growing.
  3. Always examine your bacon before buying, and ensure you buy when still days away.
  4. Bacon can also be safely frozen at 0 degrees F for four months.

The Bottom Line

We understand the desire to stock up on bacon but do avoid having too many leftovers and do not eat if there are any signs that it has gone bad.

Consuming spoiled bacon is associated with food poisoning which may result in symptoms like severe abdominal pain, nausea, chest pain, high fever, and diarrhea.

Keep in mind that bacon will spoil in a span of 7 days after its best-by date so even when there is no sign that it has gone bad, it is likely to still be contaminated. There is no denying the love we have for this meat but it doesn’t last forever.

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