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How To Tell If Sausage Is Spoiled

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Sausages are a versatile ingredient that are easy to incorporate into any meal. There are numerous sausage varieties. And if you eat meat you surely have your favorites. 

But this meat product is also very perishable. Even if you provide proper storage conditions, some types of sausages have a rather short shelf life. It is important to learn about the signs of spoilage of sausage to avoid food poisoning.

How to tell if sausage is spoiled? Discoloration and an off-putting smell are two of the initial signs indicating that the sausage has gone bad. The slimy texture is another sign to look for especially for raw sausages.  Bad sausages also taste off and may have mold on them. 

Continue reading to learn more about the storage conditions and shelf life of different types of sausages and how to practice food safety with this meat product. 

Types Of Sausages

Sausage is a popular food that comes in a range of varieties. But in general, sausage is made from different types of ground meat, spices, herbs, and different flavorings.

Sausages come in a casing. The sausage casing can be natural, made of animal intestines or skin, or synthetic, made of collagen or cellulose

There are hundreds of varieties of sausage. Depending on the variety, you can use sausages to cook comforting sauces, pasta dishes, and soups. You can boil, bake, grill, broil, and pan-fry sausages and serve with your favorite side dish. 

And while there is a myriad of sausage varieties, there are 4 main categories of sausages:

  • Fresh sausages. Fresh sausages don’t undergo heat treatment during the production process. They are completely raw and need to be cooked before consumption. Fresh sausages are made of ground meat, fat, and various spices. This mixture is stuffed into casings. The famous breakfast sausages, chorizo, and Italian sausages are also types of raw sausages. 
  • Pre-cooked sausages. The best example of pre-cooked sausages is hot dog sausages. The filling of these sausages is partially cooked and usually has a smooth consistency. Most German-style sausages are pre-cooked too. These sausages come in tight plastic packages and don’t need a lot of heat treatment. 
  • Smoked sausages. As the name implies, smoke is used to cook these sausages. Kielbasa, smoked chorizo, andouille are some examples of smoked sausages. 
  • Cured sausages. The process of making this type of sausage implies salting the meat mixture when it is still fresh and allowing it to air-dry. Salami is a popular cured sausage variety. 

How Do You Store Sausages?

With so many sausage varieties, you surely have your favorites. But the shelf life and storage conditions of sausages largely differ depending on the type of the sausage. 

The best way to store most sausages is to keep them in the fridge. 

Fresh sausages are the most perishable type of sausage as they are essentially links with raw meat inside. And raw meat, as you probably know, shouldn’t sit at room temperature for longer than two hours. 

Store fresh sausages in the fridge tightly wrapped in butcher paper. Alternatively, you can keep the sausages in a zip-top bag.

Raw sausages are more susceptible to moisture and oxidation. So, it is important to keep them in some kind of wrapping at all times. 

Pre-cooked sausages are not as perishable as raw sausages. And still, the best place to store them is in the fridge. 

When it comes to smoked or cured sausages, you can store them in a cool ventilated room.

Or, in the fridge if you have bought them whole and if the package doesn’t tell you to store them in the fridge. If not, wrap the sausages in cling wrap and store them in the fridge. 

How Long Do Sausages Last?

Fresh raw sausages have the shortest shelf life. Stored in the fridge, these sausages will last only 1-2 days. And it doesn’t matter if they come in a package or not.

Cooking these sausages once you bring them home and storing them in the fridge cooked will make them last up to 4 days. 

The shelf-life of pre-cooked sausages is much longer compared to fresh sausages. An unopened package of pre-cooked sausages has a shelf life of around 14 days, though should always check the “Use by” date indicated by the manufacturer. 

Once you open the package of pre-cooked sausages, use them within 1 week.

According to USDA, certain dry-cured or smoked sausages can last indefinitely in the fridge if stored whole and unopened.

The shelf life of these sausages is around 1.5 months in the pantry. After opening and cutting dry sausages, the USDA recommends eating them within 2 days. 

With this said, always follow the storage instructions provided by the manufacturer and store the sausage in needed conditions. 

Can You Store Sausages In The Freezer? 

You can freeze both cooked and uncooked sausages. 

If you have decided to freeze sausages to extend their shelf life, remember that you should do it as soon as possible. For example, raw sausages maintain their best qualities for 2 days.

So, freezing them past that time is not a great idea as you may end up with bad-tasting or spoiled sausages when you take them out of the freezer. 

So, when you buy sausages, think about the dishes you will be cooking for the following two days. If you won’t be using the sausages, freeze them right away. It is best to freeze leftover cooked sausages as soon as possible too. 

When freezing sausages, both raw and cooked, wrap them in plastic wrap individually or in small batches.

Wrap the sausages with a layer of aluminum foil too to protect them against freezer burn. Uncooked sausages may be frozen in their original packaging if it is undamaged. 

How Long Do Sausages Last In The Freezer?

Sausages will last up to 2 months in the freezer whether they are raw or cooked. Given stable freezer temperature, the sausages will remain safe for consumption for a longer period of time. 

Defrost and use sausages stored in the freezer as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture. 

How Long Can You Leave Sausages At Room Temperature?

Similar to raw meat, you can leave raw sausages at room temperature for no longer than 2 hours.

Generally speaking, any type of sausage that requires refrigeration shouldn’t be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. 

The same goes for cooked sausages. You should discard them if you have left them out for more than 2 hours. 

How To Tell If Sausage Is Spoiled

Raw sausages have a short shelf life even when you store them properly. Improper storage conditions speed up the deterioration process of fresh sausages, causing them to spoil faster. 

As fresh sausages are essentially raw meat, eating bad fresh sausages is something to avoid at all costs. Luckily, the spoilage signs of raw sausages are quite easy to spot

Here are the signs that give away a bad raw sausage. We recommend you look out for them even if you have had the sausage for a day. It is always safer to inspect meat products before cooking them:

  • Color changes. The key indicator of freshness for raw sausages is their pinkish color. If raw sausages have a grey hue or other discoloration, discard them.
  • Off-putting smell. The smell of fresh sausages is not very strong. It usually smells like fresh meat and herbs. But when the sausages go bad, you will surely smell it. If the sausages smell sour, funky, or have an off-putting smell altogether, discard them. 
  • Slimy texture. One of the main signs of bad sausage is its slimy texture. If the sausage doesn’t feel springy to touch and feels loose, it has gone bad. But note that natural casings may feel slightly slimy even if the sausages are still fresh. So, look for other signs of spoilage such as off colors and odors before you discard the sausages. 
  • Flavor changes. If there are no visible signs of spoilage and the sausage smells okay but it tastes bad, discard it. 

As for pre-cooked and dried sausages, discard them if you notice discoloration, mold, off-putting smell, or bad flavor

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how to tell if your sausages are spoiled, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

How Do You Know Cooked Sausage Is Bad?

Changes in smell are a sign of spoiled cooked sausages too. Unlike the appetizing smell that cooked sausages usually have, you will smell an off-putting sour odor. The slimy texture is a sign of spoilage for cooked sausages too. 

What Happens If You Eat Bad Sausage?

Depending on what bacteria there is in the bad sausages, you may suffer no health issues or you may end up with life-threatening conditions. Such bacteria as salmonella and listeria can make you really sick. 

Never risk it, however, and eat sausages that you think may have gone bad. You may suffer food poisoning with such symptoms as nausea and cramps.

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