5 Clear Ways to Determine If Pork Is Bad

How to tell if pork is bad: 5 Clear Ways to Know

Properly preserved and prepared, pork is a culinary delight. From pork chops to ribs, pork belly, roasts, chops, ham and bacon, pork is rich in protein and can be used to prepare hundreds of delicious dishes. However, like other meats, pork is perishable and prone to spoilage. In this article, we will discuss five surefire ways to tell if pork has gone bad and offer tips on how to prevent it from spoiling.

1. Check the smell

One of the simplest and oldest methods of distinguishing spoiled meat from fresh meat is to smell it. A healthy piece of pork is fairly odorless, but when bacteria begin to invade it, it undergoes significant chemical and structural changes that cause it to smell bad. Spoiled pork emits a sour, ammonia-like odor that gets worse over time.
It is worth noting that certain types of packaging can also cause pork to smell a little strange. Vacuum-packed pork, for example, may have an unpleasant odor that dissipates after rinsing and drying. If the odor persists after rinsing and drying, the meat is likely spoiled and should be discarded immediately.

2. Check texture

Another time-honored way to check the freshness of pork is to use your sense of touch. Fresh pork should feel firm and slightly moist. Examine it closely for any irregularities that you can feel in your hand. The surface should be moist but not rubbery. Any meat that feels slimy or sticky to the touch should be discarded as it is a sign of spoilage. On the other hand, if the surface of the meat is too dry, it is a sign that the meat is old and not safe to eat.

3. Check the color

In addition to the smell and texture, the appearance of pork can also indicate its freshness. Fresh pork is generally pink throughout, although the shade of pink may vary depending on the cut. For example, pork butt has a darker pink color, while pork loin and pork chops are much lighter.
If the meat has gray or brown spots, it should be discarded. Any fat in the meat should be white. If it begins to turn yellow, it is a sign of deterioration, especially in cuts such as pork butt or spare ribs.
While color change can be an indicator of spoiled meat, it can also be caused by a harmless process known as oxidation. If the meat is not properly packaged and oxygen is allowed to enter, it may begin to change color. However, if the color change is accompanied by other signs of spoilage, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard the meat.

4. Check for mold growth

Mold is a clear sign that pork has gone bad. Mold thrives in moist environments, so if you live in an area with high humidity, it is important to avoid storing pork for long periods of time. If you find mold on your meat, it is best to throw it away. Do not try to remove the mold, and cook the parts that are not moldy. Eating moldy meat can make you very sick because the extent of the mold’s effects cannot be judged with the naked eye.

5. Check the expiration date

Packaged meat is usually labeled with a sell-by or use-by date. The sell-by date is used by retailers to know when to take the meat off the shelf, while the use-by date tells customers when to eat or freeze the food. According to the USDA, it is recommended that pork with an expiration date be consumed or frozen within 5 days of purchase. If the meat has reached its expiration date, it is best to throw it away as it is likely spoiled.

Extra precautions

While the above signs are clear indicators of spoiled meat, there are additional precautions you can take. Trust your instincts about the quality of the meat. If the meat is packaged in a questionable manner or has not been stored under proper refrigeration, it is best to avoid buying it. Often, meat that looks and tastes good can still harbor bacteria and contaminants that can cause illness. Better to be safe than sorry.

How to tell if cooked pork has gone bad

The indicators for determining if cooked pork is spoiled are similar to those for raw pork. A bad odor, slimy texture, gray meat, and mold growth are clear signs that cooked pork should be thrown away. However, it may be more difficult to detect a bad odor in cooked pork that has been sitting in the refrigerator because the odor may not be as strong when the meat is cold or frozen. It is advisable to reheat cooked pork before performing the olfactory and textural tests, as the heat may help to dissipate any unpleasant odors.
When it comes to cooked pork, it is also important to pay attention to storage time. Cooked pork should be stored properly in the refrigerator and consumed within 3-4 days. If there is any doubt about the quality or freshness of the cooked pork, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.

Preventing pork spoilage

There are several steps you can take to prevent pork spoilage and ensure freshness:

  1. Buy from a reputable source: Buy pork from trusted butchers or reputable grocery stores that follow proper storage and handling practices.
  2. Check the packaging: Inspect pork packaging for signs of damage, leaks, or bulging. Avoid purchasing meat with damaged or compromised packaging, as this may indicate improper storage or contamination.
  3. Store properly: Once you get the pork home, refrigerate or freeze it immediately, depending on your meal plans. Keep pork in its original packaging or transfer it to airtight containers or freezer bags before storing.
  4. Follow proper storage guidelines: Refrigerate fresh pork at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) and freeze at 0°F (-18°C) or below. Observe shelf life and use or freeze pork before its expiration date.
  5. Practice good hygiene: Always wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly when handling raw pork to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.
  6. Cook to the proper temperature: Make sure pork is cooked to the recommended internal temperature to kill any bacteria or parasites that may be present. The USDA recommends cooking pork to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) with a three-minute rest time.
  7. Reheat leftovers properly: When reheating cooked pork, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to kill any potential bacteria.

By following these precautions, you can minimize the risk of eating spoiled or contaminated pork and protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.


Properly identifying whether pork has gone bad is critical to your health and safety. By using your senses to check for signs of spoilage such as odor, texture, color, and mold growth, you can determine the freshness of pork before you consume it. In addition, checking the expiration date and following proper storage and cooking guidelines can help prevent pork from spoiling in the first place.
Remember, when in doubt, it is always better to throw away questionable pork than to risk foodborne illness. By practicing good food safety habits and being aware of the signs of spoilage, you can enjoy delicious and safe pork dishes with peace of mind.


How can I tell if pork has gone bad?

There are several signs to look out for. Look for a rancid smell, a slimy or overly dry texture, discolouration, mould growth and the expiry date on the packaging.

What does bad pork smell like?

Spoiled pork gives off a sour, ammonia-like odour. If you notice a strong, unpleasant smell coming from the meat, it is likely to be spoiled.

Can I eat pork if it feels slimy?

No, a slimy or sticky texture is a clear sign of spoilage. It is best to throw away pork that feels slimy.

Is it normal for pork to change colour?

While some colour change can occur due to harmless oxidation, significant grey or brown spots on the meat are a sign of spoilage and should be avoided.

Can I cook pork that has mould on it?

No, mould growth on pork is a clear sign of spoilage. It is important to discard the meat completely and not attempt to remove the mould and cook the remaining portions.

How long can I keep cooked pork before it spoils?

Cooked pork should be properly refrigerated and consumed within 3-4 days to ensure freshness and prevent spoilage.