Ground Beef Turned Brown in The Freezer? Here’s What It Mean

Preserving your ground beef for longer periods is easier done with a freezer. But when your ground beef starts to turn brown in the freezer things may start to feel a little bit complicated. 

However, it shouldn’t be. Color change in ground meat can sometimes indicate its level of freshness, but not always. 

When your ground beef turns brown in the freezer, it may not necessarily be bad, it may have been exposed to certain things that triggered the ground beef to turn brown. 

Let us break this down further…

What It Means When Ground Beef Turned Brown in The Freezer

When ground beef turns brown in the freezer, it means that it has been exposed to oxygen or light. This doesn’t automatically mean that your ground beef has gone bad or something, it’s just that oxygen or light exposure does that to ground beef.

As long as your ground beef shows no signs of spoilage (rotten odor, mold growth, sticky or slimy feel) while experiencing a color change. At this point, it is still pretty much edible, although it may not be as tasty as red ground beef. 

Is Brown Meat from The Freezer Bad?

No, it is not, it can be safe to eat. 

If the meat from your freezer starts to turn brown, it doesn’t mean it is bad. It is pretty normal for meat to change color from bright red to brown especially when it comes in contact with oxygen or light, experiences freezer burn or has been in storage for a long period. 

Brown meat from the freezer is safe to eat. As long as there isn’t any foul smell, sticky or slimy texture, or mold growth that indicates spoilage, you’re good to go. 

Some mold-like cryophiles thrive better in severely cold temperatures and can cause mold growth on your frozen meat. 

How Can You Tell If Frozen Ground Beef Is Bad?

Contrary to popular opinion, you can tell if your frozen ground beef is bad using some quick procedures. 

Frozen ground beef that is going bad is definitely a cause for concern and there are several ways to identify spoilage in ground beef. From its texture to its smell, and mold growth, identifying spoilage in frozen ground beef is involves easy procedures. 

It develops a foul, rotten smell

When frozen meat starts to go bad, a characteristic foul odor begins to take over. This is the most straightforward and obvious indication of spoilage in your frozen ground beef.

Good ground beef is supposed to smell fresh and fleshy.

Check for discoloration due to freezer burn

When ground meat has been left in the freezer for a really long time, moisture leaves it and it begins to look shriveled or discolored. The texture feels tough to the touch. At this point, you should probably just wrap it up and trash it. 

Examine the texture

If your ground beef has a slimy film, that’s not normal. This slimy film may look slightly yellow and will make your ground beef appear shinier than it should. 

You should send that beef to the trash asap. Also, if your ground beef feels sticky to the touch, that’s another indication that it may not be as edible as you envisioned. 

Mold growth

Although, it is quite uncommon for frozen ground beef to develop mold growth it doesn’t mean that this is entirely impossible. When certain microbes which thrive better in a really cold clime start to grow on your freezing ground beef, a problem ensues. 

Alternatively, if for some reason, the temperature in your freezer fluctuates for a bit, your freezing ground beef may develop mold growth. 

Read also: How to Use A Pizza Stone for The First Time

How long does raw ground beef last in the freezer?

Generally, it can last for as long as you want it to. It is however recommended to use it within three to four months of freezing. 

If you somehow forget your ground beef in your freezer for a year and suddenly you decide to use it for a meal, you may get disappointed with the taste and texture. When ground beef stays below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for a long time, the quality is likely to deteriorate. 

Read also: Is Veal Red Meat?

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 or after you finish cooking it. If you’re in doubt about the health of your cooked meat, here’s what to look out for:

A fishy or rotten smell

Cooking doesn’t eradicate the foul smell of bad meat. When you cook bad meat, its rotten smell is more pronounced. This is the quickest way to examine your cooked meat for spoilage. No matter how much the meat tried to hide its spoilage, once you cook it, a rancid smell would give it off.

Discoloration or mold growth

Discoloration may not always be an indication of spoiled cooked meat because cooked meat turned brown by default but if you see grey patches, there might be a problem. 

Mold growth is another physical manifestation of meat that’s spoiled. 

A slimy or sticky film

A slimy film in your cooked meat is a recipe for disaster. It makes the meat look shinier than it should. 

Additionally, if your meat feels sticky or develops a sticky film after cooking, it’s a sign that something isn’t right. If you notice any of these, you shouldn’t eat the said meat. 

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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