An inviting ground breakfast sausage served off the barbeque will have every meat lover’s mouth watering with enticement! Do you still find the previous day’s cooked breakfast sausage enticing, or are you curious if the sausages you bought a couple of months are still to go? If you meet the description, continue reading.
The best way to tell if ground breakfast sausage is spoiled is to pay attention to the sausage’s color, smell, texture, and expiration date. Rotten ground breakfast sausage displays a grayish-brown color, rancid odor, and slimy texture. Use “best before” dates as an additional guideline.
Breakfast sausages are finger-licking good (if fresh). So, to prevent you from accidentally biting into breakfast sausage gone rotten, we’re proving all you need to know about how to tell if breakfast sausage has gone foul. For the full description, continue reading.
How to Tell if Ground Breakfast Sausage Has Gone Bad
Except for dry sausage, all sausages are perishable within several days and need to be refrigerated or frozen (ask.usda.gov).
Consuming spoiled and even undercooked ground breakfast sausage can make you feel sick. So, it’s essential that you store, handle, and prepare the breakfast sausage as safely as possible to prevent getting sick.
Fortunately, there are several signs of being aware of to tell if ground breakfast sausage is spoiled. First and foremost, try to pay close attention to the ground breakfast sausage’s color, smell, texture, and expiration date.
1 – The Color Changes if Ground Breakfast Sausage Has Gone Bad
The fastest way to determine if ground breakfast sausage is still good to eat or if it has spoiled is by looking at the color of the meat. Raw, high-quality, ground breakfast sausage needs to be a bright red or pink color on the outside.
The red coloration is present due to oxygen reacting with oxymyoglobin (a meat pigment), forming a vibrant red color on the surface of the meat.
So, the inside of the ground breakfast sausage meat will generally be a grayish-brown color. The grayish color is due to the inner flesh not reacting with oxygen.
Note that the sausage is still in good condition and perfectly fine to eat.
However, if the ground breakfast sausage displays a gray or brown discoloration on the outer surface of the meat, the breakfast sausage is starting to spoil, and it’s best to stay safe and discard it.
Lastly, if you notice any form of mold on the ground breakfast sausage, like a fuzzy, greyish-green, or blue color, throw it away immediately, whether it is raw or cooked.
2 – Ground Breakfast Sausage Smells Off if it Has Gone Bad
A second fast and effective way to tell if ground breakfast sausage has gone rotten is smelling the meat.
Fresh ground breakfast sausage usually has a mild, meaty smell with a possible aroma of herbs (depending on the additives). At the same time, spoiled ground breakfast sausage will have a putrid and rancid odor.
This pungent odor occurs due to increased spoilage bacteria on the sausage; for example, Pseudomonas spp. and Lactobacillus spp. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
So, if your raw or cooked ground breakfast sausage has a tangy smell to it, discard it immediately!
3 – The Texture Shows if Ground Breakfast Sausage Has Gone Bad
Another way to test if ground breakfast sausage has gone foul is by checking its texture.
Fresh ground breakfast sausage generally has a relatively firm consistency that breaks apart if you squeeze the meat.
On the contrary, spoiled ground breakfast sausage will have a slimy or sticky texture from the build-up of spoilage bacteria. Throw the meat away immediately and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
4 – Expiration Dates Indicate if Ground Breakfast Sausage Spoils
Expiration dates and sell-by dates are additional guidelines to determine if your ground breakfast sausage is spoiled or not.
A sell-by date will indicate how long a product can be on display for sale in the supermarket. For example, ground breakfast sausage can be refrigerated and safely eaten up to 2 days past the sell-by date.
The expiration date or the “best before” label indicates how long the product will likely keep its flavor and quality and when it will start to rot.
As long as you correctly store the ground breakfast sausage, the product is safe to consume two days past the “best before” date if you keep it in the refrigerator.
In addition, the ground breakfast sausage can last long beyond its “best before” date if you properly store it in the freezer. Still, consuming the ground breakfast sausage is advisable within four months of purchasing (fda.gov).
The biggest problem with dangerous bacteria or pathogens is that we can’t see, smell, taste, or feel them.
The only way to genuinely know if the ground breakfast sausage is still fresh is to inspect the breakfast sausage adequately before consuming it. In addition, purchase the meat from reputable suppliers, follow the “best before” thoroughly cook them, and follow the recommended refrigerator or freezer storage times.
So, ensure you carefully read the sell-by and “best before” dates before purchasing ground breakfast sausage at the supermarket.
How Long Does Ground Breakfast Sausage Stay Fresh?
Fresh ground breakfast sausage is generally purchased raw and is one of the most perishable sausage meats. However, ground breakfast sausage generally stays fresh for a couple of days to several months, depending on your storage choice.
If you purchase the ground breakfast sausage at the supermarket, try to follow the “best before” date. It indicates the last recommended date that the sausage meat will maintain its peak quality.
However, if you plan to freeze the ground breakfast sausage, you do not need to follow the “best before” guidelines.
Raw ground breakfast sausage generally maintains its freshness for only a day or two if you store it in a refrigerator at 40°F or less (ask.usda.gov).
If you store raw ground breakfast sausage below 0°F without breaking the cold-chain cycle, the meat will indefinitely stay safe to eat.
Even so, it’s best to try to consume the product within two to three months from purchase. After that, the quality and taste of the ground breakfast sausage will diminish due to freezer burn.
In addition, cooking the ground breakfast sausage before refrigeration or freezing generally increases the duration that it stays fresh.
Properly cooked ground breakfast sausage can stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator and up to a recommendable four months in the freezer.
However, if you alternatively choose to purchase pre-cooked ground breakfast sausage, the sausage is generally good for up to a week unless the packaging specifies otherwise.
Here’s a summary:
|Refrigeration before opening||Refrigeration after opening||Freezer|
|Raw ground breakfast sausage||1 to 2 days||1 to 2 days||1 to 2 months|
|Cooked ground breakfast sausage||Not Applicable||3 to 4 days||2 to 4 months|
|Pre-cooked breakfast sausage||5 to 7 days||3 to 4 days||2 to 4 months|
Tips to Manage Ground Breakfast Sausage Fridge Life
Correctly handling and storing ground breakfast sausage is key to avoiding spoiled sausage meat and potential food poisoning.
It is imperative to note that supermarkets’ shelf-life guidelines presume that the product is appropriately handled from start to finish through cold-chain management.
It’s advisable to lastly add your meat (sausage) to your basket right before you pay for your groceries. Alternatively, take an insulated bag or picnic cooler to keep the ground breakfast sausages cold and fresh until you can get home to pop them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Ensure that you store your raw ground breakfast sausage in a container or package without holes, and keep the raw meat separate to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria spreading.
Be sure to refrigerate or freeze your ground breakfast sausage as soon as you get home or within a maximum of two hours of purchase.
Another helpful tip for managing and lengthening ground breakfast sausage’s fridge life is to ensure that your fridge is properly clean and maintain the right refrigerator or freezer temperatures.
A sparkly clean refrigerator that maintains a constant temperature will reduce the spread of harmful bacterial.
In addition, if you’re cooking fresh the ground breakfast sausage, ensure that you cook them all the way to ensure a food-safe temperature of 160°F. Following the food-safe temperature requirement will ensure that most of the harmful bacteria die, reducing the likelihood of getting food poisoning.
Therefore, it is safest rather not to eat raw or slightly spoiled ground breakfast sausage.
When storing your cooked ground breakfast sausage, try to place it in an air-tight container away from other raw meat products in your refrigerator.
Additionally, mark your packaged sausages to prevent eating spoiled ground breakfast sausage and discard the products as soon as they turn greyish-brown and slimy, smell rancid, taste-off, or are past their expiration date.
Lastly, if you want to use your frozen ground breakfast sausage, thaw the ground breakfast sausage in the fridge to ensure that the meat stays cool while defrosting. Note that you shouldn’t ever leave the ground breakfast sausage at room temperature for over two hours (perfect climate for harmful bacteria growth).
Is it Safe to Reheat Ground Breakfast Sausage?
You can reheat ground breakfast sausage after cooking it by popping it into the microwave or hob, but only if you could store the ground breakfast sausage in the refrigerator before two hours of room temperature exposure.
Bacteria rapidly increase at temperatures ranging between 40°F to 140 °F.
So, note that reheating ground breakfast sausage in the microwave or on the hob does not make it safe to eat if you forgot the meat on the counter the night before. Various types of bacteria, like staphylococcus aureus, potentially form a heat-resistant toxin that reheating cannot prevent you from ingesting.
What Happens if You Eat Bad Ground Breakfast Sausage?
The outcome of eating spoiled ground breakfast sausage depends on each individual and the severity of harmful bacterial growth on the ground breakfast sausage.
Spoiled ground breakfast sausage is dangerous to consume because it potentially contains harmful pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning.
The harmful pathogenic bacteria responsible for food poisoning include Pseudomonas spp., Lactobacillus spp., Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.
The harmful bacteria rapidly grow in foods (including ground breakfast sausage) left on the counter at room temperature for longer than two hours.
If the ground breakfast sausage has only slightly spoiled, you might only have mild symptoms like an upset tummy. However, eating ground breakfast sausage that is severely rotten results in the risk of developing food poisoning.
Consuming spoiled ground breakfast sausage generally results in symptoms like abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, depending on the severity of the food pathogens. Note that symptoms tend to take a or two before showing.
While many cases of harmful bacteria growing on meat only cause mild food poisoning, it can be life-threatening in some severe cases. Therefore, ensure that you follow the correct storage methods and discard the ground breakfast sausage if they seem to be off.
Potential signs that your ground breakfast sausage has gone rotten include the following:
- A gray or brown discoloration on the outer surface of the ground breakfast sausage or blue, green, or grey fuzzy mold indicates that the meat is rotten.
- A pungent and rancid odor. This foul odor occurs from the increased growth of spoilage bacteria on the sausage.
- Spoiled ground breakfast sausage will have a slimy or sticky texture instead of a firm consistency that breaks apart if you squeeze the meat. The slime occurs from the build-up of spoilage bacteria.
- If you refrigerate ground breakfast sausage, you can safely eat it up to 2 days past the sell-by date or the “best before” date.
However, you can generally avoid spoilage by thoroughly cooking and safely handing the ground breakfast sausage and storing it correctly. Note that it’s best to follow the guidelines for how long you can safely refrigerate and freeze ground breakfast sausage.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.