6 Signs Your Steak Has Gone Bad

The idea of a grilled steak is enough to make your mouth water, but spoiled meat will strike terror into the heart of any barbecue lover.

This is why knowing how to store fresh meat and thaw frozen meat correctly is important. But you should be able most importantly, be able to notice the tell-tale signs of spoilage.

In this guide, I will show you the top six signs that your steak has gone bad – so you can grill confidently and keep your friends and family safe.

How to tell if your steak has gone off

You should always check your steak before cooking. Even meat in the freezer can go off, so learning the signs that your steak is gone off is critical.

From smelly meat to discoloration, below are the telltale signs your meat belongs in the bin.

1. Is My Meat Past the Used-By Date?

Fresh meat may have a used-by date and a sell-by date. But the date you must pay close attention to is the used-by date. 

The sell-by date is the date by which the store must sell the meat, and the used-by date is the date by which the manufacturer can guarantee it will be safe to eat.

Cooking your meat by the used-by date is the safest way to ensure you avoid food poisoning.

2. Is There Mold Growing on the Meat?

One clear indication of meat spoilage is the appearance of mold. If your refrigerated steak has patches of white or grey discoloration, mold has likely spoiled the meat, and it is time to throw it in the bin.

3. Has the Color Changed?

Apart from looking to see if mold is growing, another visual change in your meat is the loss of its bright red color.  If the raw steak appears brown and dull, it is old and may need to be discarded.

4. Is the Meat Dry?

Another indication of old, potentially harmful meat is a dry texture.  The older your raw steak is, the more it will lose its moisture. 

This increases the risk of spoilage as it indicates that the meat is no longer fresh and could harbor harmful bacteria.

5. Is the Meat Slimy?

Perhaps one of the obvious physical sign that your meat has spoiled is a slimy film. 

Not only will you be able to feel the slime, but there will be a visible shine to the meat, letting you know you have spoiled meat without having to actually touch it.

6. Does Your Steak Smell Bad?

If your steak has a foul odor, do not cook it! While most people do not find the smell of meat appealing, it shouldn’t be offensive.

Meat that is fresh should have a metallic iron smell; it is a strong smell, but you will be able to smell it.

However, if your steak has gone bad, it will have a strong smell, like ammonia or eggs. If you smell this when throw it out.

Wrapping it up

All it takes is a bit extra care and attention to detail to avoid off meat on the menu for your next BBQ. 

Follow the preventative measures above to keep your meat fresh. Or, at the very least, check for the listed tell-tale signs to make sure you don’t serve spoiled meat for dinner.

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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