Why Does Ground Beef Turn Brown In The Fridge? Is It Safe To Eat?

Ground beef comes in a fresh and reddish-pink color, but very often, it turns brown and gray, confusing many consumers. They often wonder whether they should eat the brown ground beef or if it has become rotten that they shouldn’t eat.

According to the U.S Agricultural Department, ground food undergoes various color changes when placed in grocery shops and when you put it in the fridge, eventually its color changes.

Sometimes, it is red from the outside but gray or brown inside. This ground bead is safe because it only happens due to oxygen deficiency, which is pretty standard.

However, sometimes the color changes due to the expiry date; cooking or eating this expired ground beef meat is risky. The expiry date is often not mentioned on the packaging or gets removed due to mishandling; in that case, you can sniff your meat to figure out its freshness.

You can read this article till the end and find out why the food in the fridge turns brown and whether you should eat this brown ground beef or not.

The Key Takeaway

  1. Ground meat is versatile, tasty, and can be cooked in various ways.
  2. Typically, ground beef meat is pinkish-red in color as it is exposed to oxygen, but if it gets a little brown, don’t worry. It happens when the meat is not in contact with oxygen.
  3. Don’t skip to see the expiry date of your tangy-smelled meat.
  4. Feel the meat and observe its texture; if it is slimy, tacky, or sticky- you can get rid of it.
  5. Only damp and smooth ground beef meat is worth cooking.
  6. Sniff the ground meat; if it is not giving any smell or contains a slight iron scent, it is outstanding! A little wired or funky smell means it is spoiled.

Why Does Ground Beef Turn Brown In The Fridge?

Making the taco fillings or whip-up is always popular and finger-licking meatloaf, but when we take out our meat from the fridge, it confuses us due to its heavily changed color, which is most commonly brown.

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Many users wonder whether this brown-colored meat is harmful to use or if it is just a slight change in color with no concern with taste, nutrition, or health. The use of brown meat depends upon the reasons that turned the color.

Below are some primary reasons that modify the red ground meat into brown, black, or gray.

Lack Of Oxygen

Janeal Wyn Yancey is the University Of Arkansas’ meat scientist that has explained the reason for ground meat’s turned color. According to him, meat’s protein, called myoglobin, chemically modifies its color and shape when it is prone to oxygen.

Subsequently, meat also changes the way of reflecting light. This turned color is the same as avocado, apples, and eggplants, whiff due to fresh air deficiency.

Expiry Date

The change in ground beef color is not bad, yet it is necessary to figure out that the expiry date is not the culprit. If you are bringing it from the market or utilizing the refrigerator’s ground meat, check its use-by date hasn’t passed.

If unsure about the date, thoroughly sniff it and toss it all around to assess its freshness. If you find any repulsion in your nose while sniffing, throw it away. Very often, a slice of smelly meat is also slimy and off in texture; if so, waste it without bringing a second thought.

Wrong Packaging While Freezing

Ground meat is one of the handiest things to have, as you can consume it solely or add it to other dishes. If you put meat into the freezer right after buying it from the grocery shop – sadly, you are doing it wrong. If you do not put the meat right into the freezer, its lifespan will be reduced.

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The following are the right ways to thaw your ground beef, store it carefully, and save the meat’s life span.

Take the ground meat beef and repackage it in the freezer bag – don’t forget to flatten the meat as it will help you save space. The flattened meat can also eliminate the chances of air pockets as these pockets can cause freezer burn. The proper packaging can also help to defrost the meat quickly.

Is Brown Ground Meat Safe: Let’s Go Some Deeper

A little spot or a fair chunk of brown-colored ground meat does not indicate rotten meat. Look – if you have hunched your beef meat and found a little grayish color, consider it normal.

This slight color change shows that your meat has not been appropriately exposed to oxygen, which is why it has lost its redness in color. The ground meat retains its red pigments and texture until it remains in contact with oxygen.

So don’t think your little odd-colored meat center should be wasted, but it is ready to go in a pot – so it can be cooked, eaten, and enjoyed. The other way round, it is questionable if it is all gone brown; in this case, you need to get rid of it!

The American Meat Institute explains that ma ny meat pickers incorporate carbon monoxide into packaging, which acts as a color stabilizer. So when picking up meat, don’t only look for the color but the expiry date as well because a closer expiry date can make your meat brown very soon. So don’t only go for color but expiry date as well.

Tip: Before picking a meat package, put your hand over it and find if it is hot or cold. If it is a little warm, don’t consider this beef pack because the meat is often kept out of the refrigerator for a while and then restocked. This is how food turns its color brown, and somehow poisoning happens!

Instead of going to the butcher’s counter, you can speak up to the person on the other side, pick out meat cuts and ground them there, and assess.

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An experienced butcher also gives good guidance, but you can also assess by observing a chunk of steak. Sometimes meat contains 20 percent fat, but often it is all ground.

If you have some demands to make your burger juicy, you can ask for that, request to add some fats in the ground meat – adjustments can happen!

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that meat gets shrunk, and when you cook it at a higher temperature for a long time, it even shrinks more.

The cardinal rule is to cool ground meat to at least 160 degrees to diminish the harmful bacteria, but this temperature makes your burgers dry. Unfortunately, this temperature dries off all juices and fats.

An easy fix for this situation is getting more extra meat than you need. Many experienced weight watchers explain that 25% of meat shrinks when fried.

Hence, it is preferable to buy 25% extra meat than you need. Now make burgers of ground meat and enjoy your time!

Out Summary

In many kitchens, ground meat is a staple because it is tasty, versatile, and quickly gets ready for meals.

Ground beef is also ideal for burgers, meatloaf, chili, tacos, and much more; whatever you want! If it gets a little brown, don’t throw it away; use it as there is nothing to be worried about. However, if it smells foul, gets slimy, and all brown, then get rid of it.

Don’t use expired ground beef meat; if you want to freeze it, buy the one that has an extended expiry date.