How to Tell if Ground Turkey Is Bad (3 Simple Ways to Tell)

Wondering how to tell if your ground turkey has gone bad?

Turkeys is a great alternative to ground beef, as it contains less fat. 

But all this doesn’t matter if it contains spoiled meat.

Harmful bacteria, especially from poultry can make you sick.

Don’t risk food poisoning to you and your family.

Let me help you identify if your ground turkey is bad.

And how you can prevent it from happening again.


Is My Raw Ground Turkey Bad? – How to Tell

Below are the common and simple ways to check for bacterial growth.

Make sure you read further for some preventative measures.

And even some cooking tips and tricks!

Check the Shelf Life of Your Fresh Ground Turkey

The first thing is to check the use-by date on your package of ground turkey.

The manufacturer has a legal requirement to monitor and set a date when processing.

Have left this fresh in your fridge past the date?

Throw it out!

Note: If you brought the mince from a butcher, ask them for a specific date.

Make a note and plan on cooking it accordingly.

The general rule of thumb time for refrigerator storage is 4 days from purchase.

Air Exposure to Raw Meat

Did you remove the turkey from the original packaging?

Or have noticed a breach in the seal?

Exposure to air accelerates the growth of bacteria.

Check the packaging for holes or move to an airtight container after purchase.


Texture of Bad Ground Turkey

If you are still not sure then check for a slimy texture.

All types of ground turkey are ground to a coarse paste.

If it has an overly sticky texture it is an obvious sign of rotten meat.

Air exposure can also cause moisture loss.

This can be indicated by a dry texture and crumbly consistency.

Color of Bad Ground Turkey

Fresh and safe-to-eat ground turkey is light pink.

A darker or brownish color is not what you want to see.

Bad meat will also tend to go a gray color from oxidization.

Inspect for signs of discoloration in raw poultry carefully.

This is because it might be a different color in the middle or at the bottom.

Smell of Spoiled Ground Turkey

Probably the most effective way to know if meat products are bad.

As a foul odor and your natural response are hard to ignore.

This definitive smell may stink of rotten eggs.

Or have a characteristic sulfur-like smell.


What Is in Ground Turkey Meat?

Fresh turkey meat that has been ground will likely consist of all parts of the bird.

The dark meat from the legs or thighs.

The white meat from the breast.

And a bit of fat content from the skin and inter-connective tissue.

How Should I Store Raw Ground Meat?

Do not leave your raw ground turkey out of the refrigerator for longer than 60 minutes.

Keep it in its packaging or an airtight container until you plan on cooking.

What Should My Refrigerator Temperature Be Set To?

The correct temperature in the fridge to store ground turkey is between 4°F – 7°F.


Can I Freeze Raw Turkey Mince?

Freeze if you aren’t going to use it within 3 days at 0°F.

Do not freeze over 3-4 months as this will cause a freezer burn.

How Should I Defrost Frozen Ground Turkey?

There are 3 safe ways to defrost frozen meat.

Defrosting in the Fridge for 24 Hours

The safest way to defrost is by putting it straight from your freezer into the fridge.

This defrosts while not exposed to warm temperatures.

Cold Water Method

If you need to cook it quickly then use the cold water method to defrost it.

– Run a cold water bath in your sink.

– Submerge the frozen and packaged ground turkey into the water.

– Change the water every 30 minutes.

– It will defrost in around 3 hours.


Defrosting in the microwave is the quickest method.

– Place the packaged ground turkey in your microwave.

– Set the defrost mode.

– It should take 15 minutes per 500g.

Can I Eat Defrosted Turkey Over the Sell-By-Date?

Yes as this is likely why you have chosen to freeze it.

Eat on the day you defrosted.

Do not defrost more than once.


What Internal Temperature Is Turkey Safe to Eat At?

The internal temp to eat ground turkey is 180°F.

How Can I Measure This in My Cooked Ground Turkey Meat?

Using a meat thermometer is always the most accurate way to measure.

However, this can be a bit hard when dealing with ground meat.

Use your discretion and experience.

Check there isn’t any pink left color.

Fry on medium heat for at least 20 minutes.

Food Safety Summary – Advice for Poultry

– Note down the expiry date and plan to cook it before.

– Store airtight in the fridge for no more than 3 days.

– Freeze it for up to 3-4 months.

– Eat on the day it defrosts using one of the methods above.

– Check the color, smell, and texture to indicate bad meat.

– Always throw away if unsure.

– Contact medical services if you are suffering severe food poisoning.

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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