Ground Beef Four Days After the Sell-by Date? [Things to Expect]

The shelf life of perishable food items is usually volatile, and ground beef is not an exception. 

Raw ground beef is easily prone to spoilage, but you can still enjoy it 1 – 3 days after the sell-by date. Once your ground beef is four days after the sell-by date, eating it is a risk you may want to avoid. 

There are certain things to expect or look out for when your ground beef is four days after the sell-by date and we’re going to give a quick outline of them in this post.

What to expect if ground beef is four days after the sell-by date

When ground beef has gone four days beyond its sell-by date, it starts to show signs of spoilage which is the ultimate sign to throw the ground beef out. Here’s what to expect, or rather, what you may likely see if your ground beef is four days after the sell-by date:

Color changes

Fresh or good ground beef has a characteristic red outer color with a sometimes-browner shade on the inside. When your ground beef is four days after the sell-by date, it may have some color change and turn brown or grey on the outside. This is a sign that you need to dispose of the beef. This color change can be caused by changes in temperature and lighting, microbial growth, and exposure to oxygen. 

Mold growth

You’ve probably seen some foam-like growth on spoiled food before, they can be orange, red, black, green, brown, blue, white amongst others. They develop on spoiled food as a result of microbial activities. Mold growth also exists with ground beef, and this is one of the things to expect if your ground beef has gone four days past its sell-by date. At this point, toss the beef into the trash.

Slimy or sticky texture

When your ground beef is four days after its sell-by date, chances are that they begin to feel sticky or even slimy when touched. If this happens, we suggest that you avoid eating such ground beef as this is an indication that bacteria have found their way into your beef. Even if you try to make something of the beef, it’d probably taste terrible, and who wants a ruined meal?

Putrid and tangy odor

A putrid, sharp, and tangy odor may be the order of the day if your ground beef has gone four days past its sell-by date. This is pretty common with perishable foods. 

Can you eat ground beef four days out of date?

Heavy on the no. If your ground beef is four days past its expiry date, there’s no need to consider eating it because it can cause health problems for you. It is always best to eat ground beef the day you purchase it. It tastes the best when you do that. Besides, if your ground beef expired four days ago, I’m not so sure it would look, feel or taste great enough for you to enjoy. 

Read also: How Long to Bake Chicken Pieces At 350F, 375F, and 400F

How long is ground beef good for after the sell-by date?

1 – 3 days if it has been appropriately preserved. That’s roughly 24 to 72 hours. Eating ground beef 4+ days after the sell-by date may not be a great choice because the quality begins to decline by the sell-by date.

How to tell if meat is bad after cooking?

Sometimes you may not notice that your meat has gone bad till you start to cook it and things go south. Here’s how to tell if meat is bad after cooking:

A sour, rotten odor

When cooked meat is bad, it may give off an off-putting, rancid odor. If your meat smells putrid, it may not be okay for you to eat and you may want to throw it out. 


A mold film that may not have been visible when it was raw suddenly becomes noticeable after cooking the meat. This is another way to tell that your meat is bad after cooking.

Texture change

Sometimes, when meat spoils, its texture changes. It can become slimy or sticky and this is one of the indicators of meat spoilage. Slimy or sticky meat can be unnerving if you have been looking forward to enjoying that meal. 

Slimy film

When bad meat is boiled, it can sometimes leave a slimy film at the top of the stock. When this is noted, it is best to throw the meat out. 


Cooked meat can also lose its color when it is bad. The color change doesn’t always mean the meat has gone bad, but if the color change is accompanied by a slimy or sticky film, you might want to reconsider continuing the cooking.

How to know if ground beef is bad

Several indicators can help you identify if your ground beef has gone bad. They include:

  • A rotten smell
  • Discoloration from red to brown or grey
  • Mold growth
  • Slimy or sticky texture

Read also: Is Shrimp Considered A Meat or Fish?

What happens if you eat bad ground beef?

Two words, foodborne illness. Bacteria in spoiled ground beef can cause gastrointestinal problems. 

Symptoms usually start with headaches, nausea, or abdominal discomfort. These can then lead to fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Some bacteria like L. monocytagenes and Campylobacter jejuni can instigate swollen lymph glands and body aches. 

Meanwhile, a more aggressive bacteria E.coli can cause serious sickness or death, especially in older ones or young children. These symptoms range from mild to severe, and throughout the spectrum, feelings of fatigue are common.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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