Ground Beef Is Brown on The Outside and Pink on The Inside – What It Means, What to Do

It can be an unpleasant surprise to take out your ground beef from the fridge only to see that it has started to turn brown on the outside while it remains pink on the inside.

When your ground beef is brown on the outside and pink on the inside, it can mean either of these two things; your beef is simply undergoing a color change or has begun to spoil. 

If your ground beef doesn’t show signs of spoilage but is changing color from bright red to brown, you can still cook and eat it, but if your ground beef shows other signs of spoilage, that’s bad news.

Read on to know how to identify bad ground beef.

Ground beef is brown on the outside and pink on the inside – What it means and what to do

If your ground beef has begun to turn brown on the outside and pink on the inside or other parts, it could mean that your ground beef hasn’t had a whiff of air/oxygen or has already started to spoil. 

If the former is the case, it is only a harmless color change. If the ground beef hasn’t shown any other signs of spoilage in this situation, it is edible. 

Sometimes the color change can be a result of spoilage. You should check for signs of spoilage on the ground beef or the use-by date. If the signs direct you to a spoiling pack of ground beef, we suggest you throw it away. Read further to know the tell-tale signs of bad ground beef.

How to tell if ground beef is bad

Check the texture

Touch and carefully squeeze your ground beef. If it feels slimy or gummy and not firm, you should toss it out. 

Smell your ground beef

Fresh ground beef smells fleshy and new, while rotten ground beef smells foul and off-putting. 

Inspect its color

Fresh raw ground beef is often red; when you start to notice gray or brown shades on your ground beef, it may be a sign of spoilage. 

Check the use-by date

The use-by date is synonymous with the best before or expiry date; it tells you when your ground beef is likely to begin depreciating in quality. If your ground beef has exceeded its use-by date, you should not eat it. 

Inspect it for mold

Mold spots on your ground beef are an indication that it is spoilt. Therefore, you should throw out ground beef with mold spots.

What does bad ground beef smell like? 

Bad ground beef smells off-putting and rotten. 

What happens if you eat bad ground beef? 

If you eat bad ground beef, you are at risk of developing foodborne illnesses like salmonella caused by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. 

Symptoms of such foodborne illness include diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and stomach upset or cramps. 

Symptoms often appear after several days of eating the rotten beef.

How long can raw ground beef last in the fridge? 

Raw ground beef can stay for up to three days in the fridge. If you’re looking for long-term storage for your ground beef, you should consider freezing it in an airtight bag or container. This way, it can stay safely frozen for up to four months. 

How long does cooked ground beef last in the fridge?

Cooked ground beef can last up to three or four days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, cooked ground beef should maintain its quality for about four months. 

Read also: Ground Beef Four Days After The Sell-By Date? [Things To Expect]

Can you eat ground beef that is grey? 

Yes and no. I hope you aren’t confused because this is about to get interesting. 

If ground beef has a little grey patch on the inside, it is most likely safe to eat, given that it shows no other sign of spoilage we mentioned earlier. The reason why that part is grey is that it hasn’t been exposed to air or oxygen. This is also why frozen ground beef may turn grey after a while. 

If the ground beef has turned grey on the inside and outside, this is likely because it is going bad. 

How healthy is using food coloring to make ground beef look fresher? 

Natural ingredients like acerola cherry extract, pork meat pigment, tomato lycopene, and carbon monoxide, when added, can maintain the red color of ground beef. 

However, a downside to using these additives is that it masks spoilage. Adding these ingredients to fresh ground beef won’t maintain its freshness; instead, you wouldn’t know if it had gone bad if you only eyeballed it.

For this reason, color change might not always be a reliable way to know if ground beef is going bad. However, you can check the use-by date, feel its texture, and smell it to be 100 percent sure. 

Is ground beef red meat? 

Yes, ground meat is considered red meat. Any meat that comes from mammals is red. For meat to be red, it would have a red color due to a significant amount of myoglobin in the animal’s muscles. Therefore, the darker the meat, the more the quantity of myoglobin in its muscles. 

Is bad ground beef good for dogs? 

No, dogs shouldn’t eat rotten or moldy ground beef. 

Dogs can eat ground beef as long as it is well-cooked and easy to chew. 

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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