Sometimes, you might find that your ground beef smells like eggs. Why does this happen and is there anything you can do about it? It’s not always an issue with the storage, as there might be other issues behind the nasty odor.
Keep on reading to learn if you can use ground beef that smells like eggs or if you should throw it away.
Why does ground beef smell like eggs?
If your ground beef smells like rotten eggs you might be left wondering why this happened and if it’s safe to use. There are a few reasons why this smell develops, and in most cases, you will need to throw the meat away just to be safe.
The beef meat in one piece, like steak or roast, tends to last longer because there is less surface to be contaminated. When this piece of meat is grounded the surface becomes much bigger and so does the risk of contamination.
The smell is gas produced by bacteria in most cases, but there are other options we will mention.
Keep reading below to find the two most common reasons why your ground beef smells like sulfur.
One of the main reasons why minced or ground beef gets that awful smell is because of the bacteria that develops in the raw meat. Once the meat is processed from a steak to minced meat it gets oxidized and it’s much more likely to develop bacteria on the surface.
This bacteria keeps growing as time passes by, so you might have spoiled beef in the fridge the day after purchasing it.
Besides smelling like rotten eggs, this spoiled meat can also be sticky and slimy or change color. These are all indicators that something is not right and you need to get rid of this ingredient immediately.
Bacteria on spoiled ground beef is not something you can remedy with high heat and cook it like chicken to be safe.
Minced meat will be smelly and you can’t dispose of the smell with herbs or wash it out. If it smells so bad you have the urge to throw up, it’s a clear indicator that you need to throw it away.
If you are not buying your ground beef fresh from the local butcher’s store, you will probably get it from the supermarket and vacuumed packed. While this might be the best choice and will preserve the meat for longer, it will bring some odors.
The good thing about these packages is that they will have the “best before” date stamped on them. This could help you with determining if the meat is safe to eat or return it if turns out to be rotten.
Once you open the sealed packaging you will notice a smell coming out, usually, this is not an indication that the meat is spoiled. Vacuuming removes all the air from the packaging and traps the natural smell of the meat.
This smell is not so pungent and usually takes a few minutes to completely evaporate. However, if the smell is becoming stronger and the meat has a grayish color you might have to throw it out.
What does bad ground beef smell like?
If you were planing a delicious dinner and your hamburger meat smells like eggs you might have to consider throwing it away. Ground beef that goes bad will have various smells, and most of the time it will resemble rotten eggs, sulfur, or even have a sweet note.
If you notice any of the mentioned odors you should examine the meat carefully.
If the meat feels slimy and sticky it’s gone bad and you need to be on the safe side. This means into the trash bin it goes. Fresh meat will be firmer and break apart easily when you touch it.
In addition, keep in mind that fresh meat will have that pink color. So, if you notice grey-ish hues, this can also be a good indication that something is wrong. If it’s followed by a bad odor you need to throw it away.
How should raw ground beef smell?
Fresh meat will always have a specific smell but most people will not mind it. If you come real close to raw minced meat you might notice a slightly metallic smell that comes from the iron in the blood.
This is not concerning and the meat is perfectly fine to consume.
In addition to this metallic smell, you should notice a bright pink color, and the meat should be pretty loose and easy to separate if it’s fresh. You can definitely cook this meat, as you will be left with amazing taste and aroma in the end.
How to handle ground beef to be safe for eating
There are a few simple rules you can follow to lower the contamination and have a delicious meal that is completely safe to eat. These suggestions are not just for minced meat but also all fresh meats you buy to prepare your favorite dishes.
Here is what you can do:
- While shopping for your groceries keep in mind that you need to purchase the meat products last. This is especially true for raw meat and minced beef because the temperature determines the development of harmful bacteria. So, by purchasing it last you will ensure it stays cold longer;
- When choosing the package in the store make sure it’s not damaged, that the seal is not broken and there are no holes. In addition, you can always see the color even before you can smell the meat. Go for the pink-looking fresh meat and avoid gray-colored packaging;
- Check the expiration date. This will usually say the best before date, and keep in mind that packets in the back are usually fresher than those in the front. This is a salesman’s trick of making sure that buyers purchase the meat that is closer to the expiration date;
- As soon as you get home you need to store your minced meat in a cold place. This can be the refrigerator if you plan on cooking soon, or your freezer if you are not sure when you will use it. Raw meat should never be at room temperature for more than two hours;
- Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, and clean all the surfaces you use for cooking with food-safe cleaning products. This includes utensils and your cutting board, as they will have the most bacteria on them.
How to prevent your ground meat from going bad
Meat is not cheap and we are not supporting throwing away food, so we have compiled a few suggestions that will help you avoid possible situations where your grass-fed beef smells like sulfur.
- Think about portions: before you purchase the meat you need to take into consideration your recipe and how many people are eating it. This will help you determine how much meat you need and prevent leftovers.
- Purchase fresh meat: if you have the opportunity the best way to purchase minced beef is in your local butcher’s shop. This way you can choose the whole piece of meat and ask the staff to grind it up for you, on the spot.
- Freeze leftovers: if you do end up having more meat then you might need to freeze the rest of it right away. This will keep the raw meat fresh for 6 to 12 months. When you are freezing meat make sure you make it flat in the bag, this way it will occupy less space in your freezer. In addition, you should write the date on the bag to make sure it’s not been too long since the meat was frozen.
- Defrost overnight: once you are ready to use the minced meat you have frozen you might want to defrost it in your fridge overnight. This is the best way to defrost meat and prevent harmful bacteria from growing rapidly.
Is it safe to eat ground beef that smells like eggs?
There is one great thing about our sense of smell, as it will often tell you more than your eyes. Once any product smells so bad it makes you want to throw up, you should avoid it at all costs.
The general rule is that beef with a pungent smell is not safe to consume. The reason for that smell is bacteria in most cases, as we mentioned above, and that pathogenic bacteria can cause vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and other problems.
The most common bacteria that are found in ground beef are Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. Both can cause serious infections and the first symptoms may occur after a few days.
While there is no proven method of determining if the meat is safe to eat at home you can cook it at high temperatures over 160°F or toss it away to be on the safe side.