How to Tell if Pork is Bad?

How to know if pork is bad

Pork is one of the most commonly consumed meats around the world. It’s versatile, nutritious, and delicious when freshly cooked. However, like any meat, pork is perishable and can go bad if not stored and handled properly. Eating spoiled pork can cause food poisoning, so it’s important to know how to tell if pork is bad.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about determining if your pork has gone bad. You’ll learn how to tell if pork is bad.  Follow these tips to keep your pork fresh and safe to eat. Let’s start with what to look for with raw pork.

Is Raw Pork Okay if it Smells a Little?

The first thing to evaluate is the smell of raw pork. Fresh pork should have a mild, clean meat smell. If it has a strong, unpleasant odor, that’s a clear sign it has started to spoil. Here are some common off-putting scents and what they mean:

  • Rancid smell: This pungent, sour odor indicates the pork contains a high concentration of bacteria and should be discarded.
  • Rotten egg scent: This is caused by sulfur gases released by spoilage microbes. Toss the pork if it smells like this.
  • Fishy or ammonia odor: These are signs of protein breakdown and advanced spoilage. Do not consume pork with this smell.
  • Sour milk scent: This points to lactic acid created by bacteria. Pork with this odor is past its prime.

So while fresh pork can have a slight meaty smell, a pronounced foul, sour, or fishy scent means it has gone bad. Even a mild off odor means the pork is beginning to deteriorate and should not be eaten.

Checking Undercooked and Raw Pork Safety

Checking Undercooked and Raw Pork Safety

While no pork should be consumed raw, it’s important to ensure pork is fully cooked through to an internal temperature of 145°F to kill bacteria and parasites. Here’s what undercooked pork looks like and why it’s unsafe:

  • Pink pork: If the meat is still pinkish or red inside, that indicates it’s undercooked. Pork needs to be white throughout when safely cooked.
  • Translucent color: Uncooked pork can look slightly glassy or translucent. This means it could contain dangerous pathogens.
  • Red or pink juices: Meat juices should run clear with no traces of blood. Red or pink juices are a sign the pork is underdone.

Consuming raw or undercooked pork can expose you to bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Streptococcus, and Campylobacter. These can cause severe food poisoning with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

Parasites are another hazard found in raw and undercooked pork. Trichinosis worms and other parasites can infect the meat, so pork needs to reach 145°F to kill any present.

So confirm your pork is white inside with clear juices to ensure safety. If it shows any rare pink spots or red juices, it requires more thorough cooking.

Is Brown or Gray Pork Safe to Eat?

You may come across pork that has turned brown or gray in places. This discoloration alone does not necessarily mean it’s unsafe. Here are some reasons for the color change:

  • Myoglobin reactions: This muscle pigment can turn meat brown when exposed to air. It’s harmless.
  • Freezer burns: Ice crystals denature pigment and proteins, causing grayish spots. It affects quality but not safety.
  • Bruised sections: If the meat was roughly handled, bruising can cause browning. Trim those parts off.
  • Cuts with bone: The meat right next to the bone may turn grayish brown. It’s still fine to eat.

However, browned pork accompanied by an off smell or slimy texture is a sign of spoilage and should be discarded. Trust your nose – if it smells bad along with the color change, do not eat it.

Always cook pork thoroughly until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 145°F as measured by a food thermometer. This kills any bacteria or parasites that may be present.

What If I Accidentally Ate Bad Pork?

If you have consumed pork that turned out to be spoiled, undercooked, or left out too long, don’t panic. Not everyone who eats bad pork will get sick. But be vigilant for any food poisoning symptoms, which may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Fever, chills, muscle aches
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Headache
  • Weakness and fatigue

Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days after eating the contaminated pork. The duration typically lasts 1-3 days as the body clears the infection.

If you develop any concerning symptoms or are at high risk for complications due to age or medical conditions, call your doctor right away. Food poisoning can become serious in vulnerable populations.

You may need medical support to treat dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Do not self-medicate with over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicines. Your body needs to expel the toxins, so let the illness run its course unless your doctor advises otherwise.

In most otherwise healthy cases, food poisoning can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and easy-to-digest foods until symptoms resolve. But seek medical care if you have a high fever, bloody stools, prolonged vomiting, or worsening weakness.

How Long Does Pork Last Refrigerated?

How Long Does Pork Last Refrigerated?

To avoid foodborne illness, it’s important to store pork properly and use it within its shelf life. Here is how long different cuts of pork last refrigerated:

  • Fresh pork chops/roasts: 3-5 days
  • Fresh ground pork: 1-2 days
  • Ham or bacon: 5-7 days unopened, 3-5 days after opening
  • Fresh sausage: 1-2 days recommended
  • Hot dogs: 2 weeks unopened, 1 week after opening

These timelines are for raw pork stored at 40°F or below. Freezing can extend the shelf life significantly.

Follow the “use-by” date printed on packaged pork. For fresh pork, go by the sell-by date and use within the next 3-5 days.

Rely on your nose to check for freshness. Discard if you detect any rancid, rotten, or sour odors. Also, look for slimy texture and sticky surface residue. These are signs meat has spoiled.

Cook pork within these time frames to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. If mishandled, raw pork can harbor Salmonella and parasites after just 1-2 days in the fridge. Proper cooking kills these pathogens, but it’s best to start with fresh pork whenever possible.

Can You Freeze Pork to Extend Shelf Life?

Freezing is an excellent way to safely preserve pork beyond its normal refrigerated shelf life. Here’s how long different types of pork last frozen:

  • Pork chops/roasts: 4-6 months
  • Ground pork: 3-4 months
  • Bacon: 1 month
  • Fresh sausage: 1-2 months
  • Ham: 1-2 months

To freeze pork:

  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in airtight freezer bags. Try to remove as much air as possible.
  • Label packages with name and freeze-by date.
  • Freeze at 0°F or colder. Use pork within these recommended timelines for best quality.

Thaw frozen pork overnight in the fridge. Cook immediately and do not refreeze raw pork once thawed.

With proper freezing techniques, pork can be kept for several months. But if you notice any funky odors, or off-coloring, or suspect temperature abuse after thawing, it’s safest to discard it.

How to Tell If Cooked Pork Has Gone Bad

Pork that’s turned after cooking requires the same vigilance with your senses. Look for these signs that cooked pork has spoiled:

  • Dry or slimy texture: Fresh cooked pork should be moist and tender. Dry, slimy meat indicates spoilage.
  • Mold growth: Fuzzy spots or coating mean leftovers are past safe for eating. Toss molded pork.
  • Sour odor: Leftovers that smell sour or funky should not be eaten.
  • Discoloration: Gray, greenish, or brown tinges point to contamination.
  • Weird flavor: Rancid, bitter, or “off” tastes usually mean pork has spoiled.

Most cooked pork leftovers stay safe for 3-4 days in the fridge. Freeze for longer storage. Reheat cooked pork thoroughly to 165°F. Discard if reheating doesn’t eliminate any odors or textures.

Trust your senses when evaluating both raw and cooked pork for freshness. If it smells, looks, or seems questionable in any way, play it safe and throw it out.

Can Parasites Live in Pork? Safety Tips

Can Parasites Live in Pork

Eating undercooked pork poses the risk of parasitic infections. Pork can harbor certain worms and parasites:

  • Trichinosis: Caused by roundworms in muscle tissue. Cook to 145°F to kill.
  • Toxoplasmosis: A parasite found in contaminated environments. Cook thoroughly and practice clean handling.
  • Taenia solium: An intestinal tapeworm parasite transmitted by undercooked pork.

To destroy any parasites, cook pork to an internal temperature of 145°F as measured by a food thermometer. Also, take care to avoid cross-contamination when handling raw pork.

Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after contact. Do not let raw juices touch cooked foods. Refrigerate pork right away since parasites proliferate at room temperature.

While parasites are a concern, the risk is very low, especially today. Commercial pork production adheres to strict standards that reduce hazards throughout the supply chain.

Practice safe cooking, prep, and storage methods and you can continue enjoying delicious fresh pork worry-free!


I hope this guide on how to tell if pork is bad gave you a thorough understanding of how to determine if pork has gone bad. Trust your senses while checking raw pork for foul odors, slimy texture, and discoloration. Cook pork fully to 145°F until it is white throughout. Check cooked pork for mold, sour smells, and weird textures or tastes. Practicing proper handling, prep, and storage will keep pork safe and delicious to eat. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Following these tips can keep you and your family protected from foodborne illnesses when enjoying pork.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you get sick from eating pork that smells a little off?

Yes, you can still get sick from pork that smells slightly funky or sour. Even a mild odor indicates spoilage bacteria are present and the meat should be discarded. Do not consume pork with any rancid, rotten, or ammonia-like scent.

  1. Why does pork change color in the package or fridge?

Darkening or graying is often due to myoglobin reactions with air, bruising, freezer burn, or bone contact. These naturally change meat color but don’t affect safety. However, greenish, blue-gray, or black tinges likely mean contamination and pork should be thrown out.

  1. How do you know if pork chops are undercooked?

Check pork chops by cutting into the thickest part. Pork is safely cooked when it is white throughout with no pink areas remaining. Meat juices should run clear with no traces of blood. If the interior is still pink/red or the juices are bloody, it requires more cooking time.

  1. Can you eat pork rare like beef?

No, you should never eat pork rare. Pork needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F to kill bacteria like Salmonella and parasites like trichinosis. Beef can be safely consumed rare or pink in the middle at lower temperatures. With pork, the meat must be completely white inside.

  1. How do you treat food poisoning from bad pork at home?

Most mild cases of food poisoning from pork can be managed at home. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration from vomiting/diarrhea. Stick to bland foods like broth, toast, and rice until symptoms subside. Get lots of rest. Over-the-counter medicines can help control nausea, cramping, and diarrhea. See a doctor immediately if fever is over 101°F, diarrhea persists over 3 days or other severe/bloody symptoms develop.

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