Bacon is the cured belly of pork. In North America, it is a breakfast staple for many, and is also used to prepare many lunch and dinner delicacies. Many a people can’t do without having some fried bacon for breakfast. At the same time, people do wonder, “Can bacon go bad?”
As you might be aware, it certainly can. So the more important question is, “How do you know when bacon is bad?” It is essential that you know how to tell if bacon is bad because it can easily get contaminated with bacteria, even when stored in the refrigerator. You should avoid consuming bad bacon, as it can cause many health hazards.
How to Tell If Bacon Is Bad in 4 Easy Ways
Firstly, does bacon go bad? Definitely! Insufficient salting and smoking, improper refrigeration, and many other factors can cause bacon to go bad.
Bad bacon may look dry and off in color. You may see slime growth on the surface, and it may have a bad smell and taste.
So, want to know how to tell if bacon has gone bad? Just follow these four simple steps.
1. Check the expiry date
The expiry date and the sell-by date are different. You can always refer to any of these two dates to tell if bacon is bad.
You should not eat bacon if the expiry date on the package has passed. Bacon can be consumed up to seven days after the sell-by date. You can safely consume frozen bacon within the first four months from freezing.
2. By a look at bacon
So, are there tips for how to tell if bacon is bad just by looking at it? Observing bacon in a well-lit room will help you know if it has gone bad. Fresh bacon is bright pink in color with white or pale-yellow fat and is safe to eat.
If the bacon has turned grayish-brown in color, has a green or blue tinge, or if there is a green liquid or sheen around it, you should throw it away immediately.
3. Touch it
How can you tell if bacon is bad by simply touching it? Spoiled bacon feels slimy to the touch. Fresh bacon isn’t slimy—it is soft, fresh, and moist.
4. Smell it
How to tell if bacon is bad by smelling it? Fresh bacon should smell meaty. If it smells sour; fishy; or has a strong, unpleasant rotting odor, it has spoiled.
How to Store Bacon
So, now that you can tell if bacon is bad, next in line comes storing it. Before buying bacon, look for slices with long veins of lean, pink meat. Try to choose bacon with the least amount of fat and always check the expiry or sell-by date.
Here are five ways to store bacon so that it doesn’t go bad.
1. Wrap it up
To store bacon, first, line a baking sheet with foil or wax paper. Then, layer the bacon on the paper, and put the baking tray in the freezer. You can remove the bacon slices as needed.
2. Add salt to it
Bacteria needs water to grow. Adding salt and nitrites to bacon makes it less perishable, and directly stops bacterial growth by reducing the water content. Nitrites help stop the growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and prevent spoilage.
3. Vacuum seal it
You can store packaged and sliced bacon in the freezer in a vacuum-sealed pack. It can be stored a week after the expiry date. Bacon that is frozen and vacuum-sealed can be stored for up to a month. But after that, the fat turns rancid.
For convenient freezing, you can cut packaged bacon into four-piece serving sizes. Then, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and then in foil. Be sure to write the date on the package. Single portions stored in this way can last a few weeks longer in the freezer.
Once the vacuum seal is open, you should wrap it in foil and use it within a week.
4. Cook it
At times, you may also want to use bacon in a recipe or as a breakfast. Cook the bacon until it is soft, but not completely cooked. Then, drain it on paper towels and let it cool. You can seal the bacon in a plastic freezer bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
5. Store it individually
First, wrap individual servings in paper towels. Then, put the paper towel-wrapped bacon in “Ziploc” bags and freeze them. The bacon can last up to six weeks using this method.
You can store a fresh bacon slab in the refrigerator for several weeks. However, you will notice after some time that the ends will have darkened and dried out. In this case, you can chop them off and still consume the good parts.
Avoid freezing the whole slab of bacon. Upon freezing, the salt makes the fat turn rancid.
Now that you know how to tell if bacon is bad, you should know the consequences of consuming bad bacon.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Bacon?
If you were not able to spot “off” bacon, then you might want to know the consequences of eating bad bacon. Bacon turns sour if pediococcus bacteria grows on it.
It can give an unpleasant taste and smell to the bacon. Some bacteria can withstand low refrigeration temperatures.
Consuming contaminated bacon can cause nausea and vomiting. You may also experience an allergic cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and fever.
Under cold and dry conditions, pathogenic bacteria called Acinetobacter can grow on the surface. It can cause urinary tract infection, blood infection, and pneumonia.
Eating raw bacon can cause bacterial infection due to contamination during the packaging process. Trichinella, a parasite in raw pork, can cause diarrhea, headaches, abdominal pain, eye swelling, and aching joints. And in some cases, it may also cause muscle incoordination and death.
After ingesting bad bacon, the symptoms may appear after two to eight weeks. If you experience any of the above symptoms or gastrointestinal symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Now that you know can bacon go bad, you should take preventive measures and store it using the methods mentioned in this article.
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Trowbridge Filippone, P., “Bacon Selection and Storage,” The Spruce, October 8, 2016; https://www.thespruce.com/bacon-selection-and-storage-1807736.
“What Will Happen If You Eat Undercooked Bacon?” SF Gate; http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/happen-eat-undercooked-bacon-3110.html, last accessed April 21, 2017.