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What Does Spoiled Meat Smell Like?

Meat is rich in protein and one of the body’s main sources of vitamin B12. It is an essential element of a diet, but it is important to know when it has gone bad. It is vital that you don’t take any chances; that you eat meat when it is at it’s best.

One of the easiest ways to identify meat that is no longer safe to consume is by the smell. In this blog, we will discuss how to avoid health risks and answer the question of what does spoiled meat smell like.

What Does Spoiled Meat Smell Like?

Why Does Meat Go Bad?

Meat is a perishable good, which means it can spoil quickly. There are several reasons why meat can go bad, the main of which is improper storage temperatures. Improper storage temperature encourages the growth of bacteria that produces the slime, toxins and odours that you associate with spoiled meat. Other reasons include the age of the meat, exposure to air and cross-contamination.

Always check the “best before” date of your meat, especially if you are worried about whether it is going off.

We have written blogs on how to store meat at home as well as how to store meat in your fridge. With a quick read of these short, comprehensive guides you will understand all you need to know about storing meat correctly and preventing it from spoiling.

What Does Spoiled Meat Smell Like?

How to Identify Spoiled Meat

Fresh meat has a distinct odour that is instantly recognisable. The smell, often described as sweet or slightly metallic, is caused by the breakdown of amino acids in the meat. As we’re sure you’ve experienced, with spoiled meat there is a significant change in that smell.


When the meat starts to spoil, it undergoes a process called putrefaction. This process leads to the production of cadaverine, putrescine, and other amines. The smell of spoiled meat can be incredibly overpowering and somewhat impossible to ignore.

If you notice a strong, unpleasant smell coming from your meat it is always best to play it safe and throw it away. It is simply not worth the risk when you take into consideration that consuming spoiled meat can lead to food poisoning and a variety of health issues.


In addition to a noticeable smell, bad meat will undergo some colour changes. A piece of meat that is still safe to eat will feature a bright, healthy colour. Beef will have a bright red hue and pork will have a pink shade. When the meat starts to go bad it will have a slight colour change. Typically, it will start to turn a shade of grey or brown.

Take the time to thoroughly inspect your meat before cooking. If you notice any changes in the colour, you may want to err on the side of caution and discard the meat.

What Does Spoiled Meat Smell Like?


Another way to identify if meat has gone bad is by its texture. A sticky or slimy texture is a common indicator of meat that is “going off”. The breakdown of proteins creates a gooey film on the top surface of the meat.

These changes in texture are caused by the growth of bacteria, which break down the protein in the meat and cause it to lose its natural texture. If you notice any of these texture changes in your meat, it’s best to avoid eating it altogether.

Can I Cook Spoiled Meat?

No, you should never consume meat if you suspect it is spoiled. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and fever are all commonly associated with food poisoning. While cooking the meat will kill the bacteria in the meat, it will not neutralise the toxins that the bacteria has already produced.

What Does Spoiled Meat Smell Like?

Get In Touch

Knowing the identifying factors of spoiled meat is crucial for ensuring food safety. Proper storage and handling of meat can help prevent it from spoiling and keep you and your family safe from foodborne illness.

We are longstanding butchers with a high reputation, which is why we work across the south east of England, supplying restaurants, cafes and hotels with excellent meat. We still offer our home delivery service to local customers. If you’d like to talk to us about an order, to discuss your needs, or just to ask us a question about our processes, please either call 01424 730417 or fill in a few details on our enquiry form.

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