Ground beef is one of the most popular meats consumed in the United States and for good reason. It is incredibly versatile and tastes great.
You can use it to make burgers, meatballs, tacos, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, meat pies, and other delicious meals.
Sometimes we buy a package of ground beef with the best of intentions to cook it into something delicious like tacos or burgers.
But then life gets busy and before we know it a week or more has passed and now the ground beef smells sulfury like rotten eggs.
You might be wondering why your beef smells like this, what it means, and whether you can still eat it.
When you buy fresh beef it should have almost no smell at all, so anything beyond this could be a cause for concern and an indicator that it’s time to throw it away.
So, why does your beef smell like eggs? Beef may end up smelling like eggs because beef contains chemicals that produce sulfur, which can give it a rotten egg smell when the beef starts to go bad. Generally, once your beef smells like eggs, it is time to throw it away to prevent illness or food poisoning.
To find out more about this smell and what to do about it, read on!
What Causes Ground Beef To Smell Like Eggs?
When beef is ground, it provides more surface area for air and spoilage and pathogenic bacteria to encounter. The grinding process and increased surface area means that this style of beef goes bad faster than a steak or a roast.
These types of bacteria can make the beef spoil and potentially cause food poisoning if enough of the pathogenic bacteria are present in the beef.
If your beef is past its expiration date, has a sticky or slimy texture, wasn’t stored properly, and smells like eggs, then your best bet is to throw it away.
Certain types of bacteria can interact with the blood and proteins to release a sulfur, egg-like smell. Bad ground beef can also smell of ammonia. In either case, it is likely best to throw the ground beef away rather than risk getting sick.
Why Does My Vacuum Sealed Ground Beef Have A Weird Smell?
Sometimes when you purchase beef from the grocery store, it comes in a vacuum-sealed package to keep it fresher for longer.
Vacuum sealing removes all the air from the packaging, which decreases the chance of spoilage. However, it can also trap all the natural smells from the ground beef.
In most cases, as long as the color, texture, and sell-by date are all fine, then the smell shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Often it is just the initial release of the natural odors from the beef meat and juices.
If the expiration date has passed or the smell lingers long after you open the bag and is rancid or eggy, then the meat has likely spoiled and you should throw it away to be on the safe side.
Look for beef that is red or pink on the outside, though it may be more grey or brown in the middle since it isn’t exposed to oxygen- that’s what gives meat its bright color.
You also want ground beef that has a firmer texture that breaks apart when you gently squeeze it.
If you beef has a slimy or sticky texture to it, that means the meat has likely spoiled and again you should take the precaution of throwing it away.
How To Keep Your Ground Beef Safe
To prevent your beef from spoiling, I suggest that you portion it out when you get home and freeze it.
Freezing prevents the growth of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria and doesn’t impact the taste or texture as long as you use it within 6-12 months for the best quality.
- If you buy the large value packs, split them into family or individual serving sizes.
- Put the beef into freezer bags and press out the extra air before sealing.
- Write the date and contents on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the bag. This step will ensure you don’t use old beef.
- Place in the freezer and use within 6-12 months.
You can also freeze the smaller packages of beef right away when you get home from the grocery store.
If you’re not sure when you’re going to use it or you know you have a busy week coming up, just place it in the freezer and take it out the night before you hope to use it. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Up Next: Can You Grill Frozen Hot Dogs?