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View Full Version : I bought fresh ground beef, put it in the fridge, and now its brown


YogSothoth
02-20-2012, 12:46 PM
I bought it about 4 days ago. It was your typical red-colored, fresh ground beef. I thought I was going to use it immediately but I ended not. So its been sitting in the fridge, not the freezer, for 4 days. Now its brown, almost like its been cooked. Is it bad? Can I still eat it?

typoink
02-20-2012, 12:48 PM
Probably fine to eat, unless it smells off. Browning is just oxidation; ground beef will always do that in a few days.

Pitchmeister
02-20-2012, 12:49 PM
I wouldn't eat ground meat that was older than one or two days, tops. Especially not if it's changed color. Don't risk it, it's not worth it.

RealityChuck
02-20-2012, 01:01 PM
It may smell a bit off, but if you cook it thoroughly, it should be safe to eat.

Smeghead
02-20-2012, 01:04 PM
What you're seeing there is the oxidation of the iron in the muscle's myoglobin - basically, your meat rusted. This would happen independently of any potential microbial action. In other words, this is in no way an indication of bacterial growth. Even perfectly sterile muscle tissue would do the same thing.

I'd cook it up and eat it myself. And for the record, my BS degree was in microbiology.

salinqmind
02-20-2012, 01:05 PM
It is up to you. When in doubt, throw it out. (Myself, I've cooked brown hamburg because that was ALL there was for me to cook, and so far no one has died.) But when in doubt, throw it out.

Joey P
02-20-2012, 01:08 PM
Also, if you cut it in half, you'll see that only the outer layer is brown.

kayaker
02-20-2012, 01:21 PM
I'd use it. Then again, my philosophy is that if I do not have some food induced enteritis every year or two, then I'm being overly cautious.

FoieGrasIsEvil
02-20-2012, 01:23 PM
Its perfectly fine, but eat it within a few days.

Laggard
02-20-2012, 01:30 PM
At my parents grocery store they would grind fresh hamburger and then put in a full-service refrigerated case for customers to buy. it was never pre-packaged. Customers could get a quarter pound if they wanted.

Anyway, after two hours in the case the hamburger towards the bottom would turn brown. I always figured it was because it was getting very little oxygen. There was nothing wrong with it. It was safe and tasted just like the red stuff. Some people though just could not be convinced that there was not anything wrong with it.

Jasper Kent
02-20-2012, 01:39 PM
I've been eating ground beef for over 50 years and never once got sick from it. (I've gotten food poisoning from various other things, though)

The brownness is indeed oxidation. Odor is more a matter of opinion. If it smells downright rotten, I wouldn't eat it. If it's just "a little off" I'd cook it thoroughly.

zoid
02-20-2012, 01:52 PM
I agree it's probably fine, but give it a good smell and if it smells even a bit like ammonia or old socks chuck it.

Taomist
02-20-2012, 01:57 PM
The flip side is that we had some leftover ground beef in the fridge that I pulled out the other day to use. It'd been wrapped tight in a freezer bag, so it still looked great, nice and red. I was surprised, as yeah, it tends to go brownish usually after a day or two, but as stated above, that's no biggie.

I smelled it...WOW. Yeah...colour is NO indication of edibility, lol. It was definitely off, which shouldn't have been a surprise; I just forgot that it'd been TWO weeks since we'd made spaghetti, not just a few days. >.<

Mtgman
02-20-2012, 02:08 PM
Slightly aged ground beef is what the dish of chili was invented for. Find a good recipe for some Texas red and give your gastro-intestinal tract something to worry about aside from bacteria and their byproducts.

Enjoy,
Steven

WhyNot
02-20-2012, 02:14 PM
If your ground beef doesn't turn brown in your fridge, it's a pretty good bed your grocery store's supplier has gassed it with a mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide at some point. It's considered harmless, and it drives out the oxygen in the package so the meat stays pink.

http://redbookmag.com/health-wellness/advice/fear-our-food-6

TriPolar
02-20-2012, 02:23 PM
Ground beef oxidizes easily because of the large surface area, and unlike other meats should be tightly wrapped with plastic to keep air off and maximize freshness. But a simple change in color would only produce a barely discernable change in flavor. It is an indication that the meat has been around for a few days, and it's time to use it. As always, you take a risk with undercooked ground beef because pathogens normally found only on the surface of meat that would be killed by cooking may remain active in the interior of ground beef.

VOW
02-20-2012, 02:31 PM
My rule of thumb for ANY meat or dairy product is to smell it.

If you can get your nose even CLOSE to the product, it's fine.

Seriously. Once you've smelled BAD meat, you'll know exactly what I mean!

Ground meat usually has a bit of a slimy texture, so mere touch won't tell the whole story.

And yes, the brown color is normal and safe. A very slight GREENISH tinge is the color to worry about!

The nose knows.


~VOW

PlainJain
02-20-2012, 03:43 PM
It's good. I frequently eat ground beef that's been in my fridge for a week. Done it all my life, never gotten sick from it. The brown is normal.

Skammer
02-20-2012, 03:46 PM
I wouldn't hesitate to use it as long as it doesn't smell bad. If it was covered and at proper temperature for only a few days it's going to be fine (unless it was contaminated when you bought it).

Mahaloth
02-20-2012, 04:13 PM
Eat it. It's fine.

raindrop
02-20-2012, 11:40 PM
I guess I'm different from most. I suffer from IBS and learned the hard way that I can't eat ground beef after 1-2 days. And ground meat grows bacteria much faster than non-ground meat, because so many tiny surfaces have been exposed to bacteria. And the narrow guidelines about how long to store it are probably for those of us with the most delicate guts. Like any sick people with compromised immune systems. And children.

I also don't like to eat at other people's houses for reasons mentioned in other posts here. What others have determined is okay for them isn't okay for me. I've asked someone "um, how long has that been in there" and then said, "none for me, thanks." I also know when a restaurant has served me food that's right at (or over) the edge. My gut tells on them (unfortunately for me) and I never eat there again.

Lynn Bodoni
02-20-2012, 11:55 PM
Hey, raindrop, I've found that poultry is easier on my gut than beef. I've started eating more ground turkey. Now of course you still want it to be no older than a couple of days old, and it won't taste like ground beef, but many ground beef recipes actually taste pretty good with ground turkey. It's usually leaner than ground beef, too, which may or may not be a factor in your IBS.

I only eat very fresh ground beef, and only if my gut hasn't been acting up lately. Generally, I won't eat ground beef at fast food restaurants (which leaves out most hamburger and taco joints). I'll only eat it at certain places, where I'm sure that the ground beef turnover is fast enough that I'm gonna get a very fresh serving.

Cat Whisperer
02-21-2012, 12:08 AM
You haven't mentioned the Use By date, Yog. If you took it straight home and put it right in your fridge, and the Use By date hasn't passed yet, you're pretty close to sure it's safe. It would have spent those four days in the fridge at the grocery store.

I don't know if you can always go by your nose, but it's definitely part of the process of deciding if food is safe or not.

raindrop
02-22-2012, 04:18 PM
Hey, raindrop, I've found that poultry is easier on my gut than beef. I've started eating more ground turkey. Now of course you still want it to be no older than a couple of days old, and it won't taste like ground beef, but many ground beef recipes actually taste pretty good with ground turkey. It's usually leaner than ground beef, too, which may or may not be a factor in your IBS.

I only eat very fresh ground beef, and only if my gut hasn't been acting up lately. Generally, I won't eat ground beef at fast food restaurants (which leaves out most hamburger and taco joints). I'll only eat it at certain places, where I'm sure that the ground beef turnover is fast enough that I'm gonna get a very fresh serving.

I agree about the poultry being easier, but sometimes I really crave the beef, ya know? And I can have beef steaks and roast without a problem. It's just the ground beef that gives me problems. But I'm like you in that if the ground beef is very fresh, and handled within very strict guidelines, I'm okay with it too. It's just when people start being careless and pushing the boundaries that I get into trouble. I can even eat it at fast-food places if I pick and choose them very carefully. And it's not about the fast-food brand, just depends on how each location handles their food, keeping it at the proper temp, etc.

many ground beef recipes actually taste pretty good with ground turkey
Okay, see what you did? Now I'm craving turkey meatloaf, yum. ;)

PunditLisa
02-22-2012, 04:31 PM
Yup, I'd use the old sniffer to determine if it's still good. In fact, I use my sniffer to test just about all my foods.

Chefguy
02-22-2012, 04:38 PM
My personal ironclad rule for ground beef is three days, even though it can probably keep longer than that if properly packaged and refrigerated at no more than about 37 degrees. For chicken, it's eat it or freeze it the day it's purchased.

Purd Werfect
02-22-2012, 05:01 PM
I always use the smell test and if I can't decide one way or another based on that, I give it a pass. No food poisoning yet.

PunditLisa
02-22-2012, 05:19 PM
My personal ironclad rule for ground beef is three days, even though it can probably keep longer than that if properly packaged and refrigerated at no more than about 37 degrees. For chicken, it's eat it or freeze it the day it's purchased.

3 days past purchase date or 3 date past expiration date?

YogSothoth
02-22-2012, 05:40 PM
You haven't mentioned the Use By date, Yog. If you took it straight home and put it right in your fridge, and the Use By date hasn't passed yet, you're pretty close to sure it's safe. It would have spent those four days in the fridge at the grocery store.

I don't know if you can always go by your nose, but it's definitely part of the process of deciding if food is safe or not.

I have no idea. Is there a use date by stuff that's not already prepackaged? Anyways, the color threw me off so much that I may have been imagining I was smelling stuff, because I ended up throwing it away. It reminds me of the time my dad made us some noodle soup, only the noodles he bought were made from vegetables and was green. I knew it probably tasted the same, but I was so grossed out that I couldn't eat it.

raindrop
02-22-2012, 07:31 PM
Is there a use date by stuff that's not already prepackaged?
Our stores use a "sell by" date for all items from the meat dept. Then there's a general rule about how long we can keep it at home after the sell by date. I will usually keep it home only 1-2 days past the sell by date. But some store policy "sell by" dates are different than others. Some stores are lax about their own refrigeration so I avoid them, no matter what their sell by date is. One local chain store recently advertised that they are now setting their sell by date to be earlier than others, and earlier than necessary, just to give us all an extra measure of safety. This is a new policy for them, because I know they were sometimes pushing close to the edge too.

Chefguy
02-22-2012, 07:33 PM
3 days past purchase date or 3 date past expiration date?

Purchase. Without knowing how long it may have been sitting in the butcher's window. Our local market grinds fresh every day, so I'm a bit more lenient with that. But anything in a package with plastic wrap has three days to be used or it's history.

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