lamb is bad
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How to Tell if Lamb Is Bad

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Lamb meat is easy to store but similarly easy to mishandle as well. If kept properly, lamb meat can remain edible for several months in the freezer and can also survive a few days in the fridge too.

But how do you tell if lamb is bad? Spoiled lamb meat will have a distinct grey color with a foul odor. Some other visual indications include a sticky or slimy film on the surface of the meat along with molding and mushy spots. 

Read below to learn more about how to store lamb meat and how to know when it has gone bad!

How to Store Lamb Meat

Lamb meat, like any other meat from a large animal, has lots of fat, muscle, and, moisture. This means that you need to be extra careful about how to store it to get the most out of the quality of the meat.

In general, lamb meat should be bought fresh from the butcher and NOT frozen. Frozen meat may seem like a convenient choice but if you want the best for your family and their health, we highly suggest that you get the fresh variety.

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Frozen meat is usually of lower quality compared to freshly butchered meat. 
  2. The texture of frozen meat can be altered through freezer burn or other poor storage practices.
  3. You will have a lot more control over its quality and safety than using frozen meat.

The best way to avoid the first problem is to find a reputable butcher in your area and purchase high-quality meat that is freshly butchered or prepared the same day.

The second problem can be solved by following the right storage protocols. Lamb meat is usually sold in large cold chests where they are put on display. Refrigeration is super important for this type of meat because of its high fat content. 

frozen meat

If the meat is not kept refrigerated, it can go bad within 2-3 hours at room temperature. This is why it is important to get fresh meat that you can store within 30 minutes of buying it from the butcher shop.

Once the meat is in your kitchen, rinse it under clean water to get rid of any excess blood and debris.

Then pat the meat using paper towels to get all the excess moisture off of the surface. Then store the meat in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and pop it into the refrigerator or freezer.

Lamb meat should be kept refrigerated for no more than 3-4 days. You may also store it in the freezer for about 2-3 months

Frozen lamb meat can remain healthy and edible for up to 6-9 months but you will lose a lot of its flavor and texture after the 4-month mark.

Also, please note that frozen lamb meat requires a constant storage temperature and that even small temperature discrepancies are enough to spoil it.

As mentioned above, another point to keep in mind is moisture, if the meat has a lot of moisture before it is frozen then it is likely to develop freezer burn!

How to Use Frozen Lamb Meat

Refrigerated lamb meat is very straightforward to use, all you need to do is take it out of the fridge and cook it directly in any way you like. However, with frozen meat, things can be a bit different!

When working with frozen lamb meat, we recommend that you thaw the meat beforehand for the best experience

While you can also defrost the meat in the microwave, we suggest using the fridge to slowly thaw the meat to retain its original texture and flavor. Once the meat is thawed, inspect it for spoilage and then use it accordingly. 

How to Tell if Lamb Is Bad? – Signs of Spoilage

Lamb meat is known to give off a foul odor when it goes bad. Always remember, the best way to detect spoilage is to use your eyes, nose, and hands! 

lamb is bad

Here are a few things to look out for:

Slime or Sticky Film

Properly handled and stored lamb meat is going to be completely dry and firm. The best way to check for spoilage is to first assess the meat using your fingers.

Lightly scrape the surface of the meat from top to bottom and see if you collect any slime or sticky film on your fingers.

If you do notice these changes then this would indicate that the meat has gone bad—and no, you can’t just wash off the slime! 

The slime and sticky film are a result of bacterial growth and the meat will likely cause a lot of discomfort if consumed in this state. 

Foul Odor

Lamb meat has a balanced meaty smell and will never have a very strong or even gamey scent. This method is best for detecting spoilage in thawed meat. 

Once the meat is thawed, open the sealed pack and take a whiff. If you smell acidic notes or any foul odor, then you should just throw away the entire pack, even if the meat “looks” fine.

The smell test can be a bit difficult, especially if you have added seasonings to the meat, but if you smell closely, you should be able to pick up on the off-putting notes easily.


As mentioned, lamb meat contains muscle, fat, and some amount of blood – which means that you need to check all three for signs of spoilage. 

When lamb meat goes bad, it is quick to change color. If the meat has a dark grey color along with other shades of white, yellow, or green, then you should immediately discard the entire batch

Fresh meat is pink or light red with dark red blood while spoiled meat will be dull, grey, and, will also have brown or black blood. The same changes can be detected on the marbling or fat on the surface too!


This is the last step and the final line of defense when detecting spoilage in lamb meat. Sometimes lamb meat can go bad and not show all of the above symptoms, or you might not be able to detect the changes to any noticeable degree.

However, with this final test, you can definitively tell if the meat has gone bad. When cooking lamb meat, check the pot for any foaming. This is especially apparent when frying lamb meat.

If there is a thick foam that collects at the corner of the pot, then this would also indicate spoilage.

Please note that some foaming (called scum) is common but this mostly occurs when boiling meat.

The scum in this case is just animal fat! However, when the meat goes bad, it will create a large amount of froth that will be very hard to miss

This foam will accumulate even when you deep fry the meat. This would indicate that the meat has gone bad and that you should avoid consuming it!

What Happens When You Eat Bad Lamb?

Eating bad lamb can result in a lot of discomfort. For starters, it can cause abdominal cramping and diarrhea. Some people may also experience nausea a few hours after eating bad lamb meat.

In severe cases, bad meat may also lead to acute food poisoning that may warrant immediate medical attention. This can include a high fever, sweating, vomiting, loose bowel movements, and more. 

If you believe that you have consumed bad lamb then please stay calm and visit your healthcare provider for more information. In most cases, it might turn out to be nothing but it’s better to be safe than sorry

Related Questions 

Now that you know how to tell between good and bad lamb meat, here are some related questions!

Does Cooking Kill Off Harmful Bacteria?

While it is true that properly cooked lamb meat (or any meat) will not have harmful bacteria, it is also important to note that you can still get sick from eating contaminated meat due to the presence of toxins in the food

The toxins that bacteria release remain in the food and can cause severe food poisoning symptoms if consumed. This is why you should never try to salvage meat that has gone bad!

How Long Does Cooked Lamb Meat Last?

Cooked lamb meat can last a bit longer than raw meat because of the lack of moisture in it. In general, refrigerated lamb meat will last about 4-5, while frozen and cooked lamb meat can remain edible for up to 6 months

However, please try to consume the food within a few days (for refrigerated meat) or a few weeks (for frozen meat) to get the same level of freshness as the day you made it. 

How Can You Tell if Ground Lamb Meat Is Bad?

Ground lamb meat should be stored for no more than 1-2 days in the fridge but it can also be kept frozen for up to 4-6 weeks in the freezer. This type of meat will follow the same storage timeline and protocols as bone-in meat.

However, in this case, washing the meat is not recommended. Try to cook the ground meat within the same day for the best experience.

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