How to Tell if Pork is Bad (Tips to Staying Tummy Happy!)

The sure-shot signs that will tell you if pork is bad are foul odor, slimy texture, or discoloration (gray or green patches). If you want to steer clear of food poisoning, it’s crucial to keep a close watch on these indicators.

Now, I’m no gourmet chef. But I make a lot of pork barbecues, and I like to hoard them a lot. So I’ve had my fair share of experiences with questionable meat. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. 

Today, I’ll show you how to tell if pork is bad by sharing some telltale signs to watch out for. Plus, I’ll give you some pointers on proper storage and handling to prevent your pork from going bad in the first place. Now let’s go all in and become pork-spoilage detectives, shall we?

How Can You Tell if Pork is Spoiled?

When figuring out if pork has gone bad, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for. Here are some ways to tell if your pork is spoiled:

Slices of Raw Pork Meat

Give It a Sniff Test for Sour Odor 

Fresh pork should have a nice, meaty smell. But if you catch a whiff of something strong and unpleasant like ammonia or sulfur, that’s a clear sign that the pork has gone bad. Trust your nose on this one!

Get Touchy-feely for Slime

Take a feel of the pork with your finger. It should be moist but not have a slimy texture. If you notice a slimy or sticky film on the surface, harmful bacteria have set up camp. 

I’m sorry, the meat isn’t safe to eat anymore. What you have is rotten pork. Discard the pork immediately.

Watch Out for Weird Colors

Keep an eye on the color of the pork. Some slight darkening is normal. But if you spot any gray or green patches, that’s a big red flag for bad pork.

Those colors mean the pork has gone bad, and you should avoid it. 

Texture Matters

When you touch bad pork, it might feel super tough or mushy. That’s a sign that the meat is breaking down and not fresh anymore.

What Does Spoiled Pork Smell Like?

Bad pork has a strong and offensive aroma that smells like a mix of rotten eggs, ammonia, and sulfur, all rolled into one. 

If you come across pork that makes your nose scrunch up and your face twist in disgust, no, that’s not good pork. It has gone bad, and it’s not safe to consume. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

How Long Does It Take for Pork to Go Bad?

Now, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this because it depends on various factors like storage conditions, packaging, and whether it’s cooked or raw. But here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

Raw Pork

Raw pork typically stays good in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days. That’s assuming you’ve kept it at a proper temperature (below 40°F or 4°C) and stored it well. 

Don’t push your luck. If it starts smelling funky or developing slimy textures, it’s time to bid it farewell.

Cooked Pork

Cooked pork can hang in there for around 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Just store it in an airtight container to keep those bacteria at bay.

Tips for Longer Storage 

If you want to give your pork a longer life, freezing is the way to go! You can keep fresh pork in the freezer for up to 6 months and cooked pork for about 2 to 3 months.

Frozen Pork Meat in the Plastic Package

Is It OK to Eat Pork That Smells a Little?

Sometimes pork can have a slight odor that doesn’t smell like spoiled meat. That’s normal. But sometimes that smell means it’s gone bad, and you should steer clear.

Now, if you catch a whiff of a mild or slightly different smell coming from your pork, don’t panic just yet. It doesn’t automatically mean it’s spoiled. Things like the packaging it came in or the marinades and spices used while cooking pork can mess with the aroma. But here’s the thing: if the smell is strong, unpleasant, or way off from what you’d expect, that’s a definite warning sign.

If your nose picks up a rancid, sour or unpleasant odor, that’s a clear signal that the pork has probably gone bad.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated When You Eat Bad Pork?

The short answer is yes. It can put your health at risk. When pork or other meats go bad, it becomes a breeding ground for nasty bacteria. Common bacteria found in pork meat include Salmonella, E. coli, and Yersinia, according to the CDC. You’re also likely to get food poisoning or a foodborne illness called trichinosis from bad pork. These can wreak havoc on your digestive system and give you some seriously unpleasant symptoms.

If you’re unlucky enough to chow down on bad pork, get ready for a rollercoaster ride of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and even a fever.  

Can I Rely on the “Use-by” and “Sell-by” Date to Determine if the Pork is Still Good?

I’ll say those dates printed on the food packaging can give you some guidance. But they ain’t foolproof indicators of freshness. They’re more like general guidelines than absolute guarantees.

Now, the “sell-by” date is mainly meant for retailers. The sell-by date is like a heads-up to tell them when they should sell the product. But it doesn’t mean the pork turns into a ticking time bomb after that date.

On the other hand, the “use-by” date is an estimate of when the pork is at its peak quality. It’s the sweet spot for the best flavor and texture. But listen up, it doesn’t automatically mean the pork becomes unsafe to eat right after that date.

So, if you want to check if your pork is fresh or not, you’ve got to trust your senses.

How to Keep Pork Fresh for Longer?

If you’re looking to keep your pork fresh and tasty for longer, I’ve got some handy tips for you. 

Raw Pork Loin with Ingredients

Proper Storage Temperature

First, store pork (whether raw or cooked pork) in the fridge at a temperature of 40°F or below. This slows down the growth of bacteria and keeps your pork fresh. 

Use Airtight Packaging

When it comes to packaging, go for airtight containers. You may wrap your raw pork tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This seals in the freshness and protects it from air exposure, which can cause spoilage. For cooked meat, use airtight containers to keep it moist and avoid any contamination.

Separate From Other Foods

To avoid cross-contamination, keep raw pork separate from other foods, especially ready-to-eat ones. This will prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Safety first, right?

Freeze for Long-term Storage 

Now, if you’re not planning to cook pork within a few days, freezing is your best bet. Wrap it up tightly in freezer-safe packaging, remove as much air as possible, or use vacuum-sealed bags. This way, your frozen pork can stay fresh for several months without losing its quality.

Label and Date

Don’t forget to label and date your pork when storing it in the fridge or freezer. This will help you keep track of how long it’s been in there. So you know which ones to consume first. 

Practice Good Hygiene

When handling pork, good hygiene is critical. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching raw meat. This helps to prevent any bacterial spread. 

Also, clean all utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces that come into contact with raw pork with hot, soapy water. Safety comes first, always. 

Cook Well

Last but not least, make sure you cook pork thoroughly. This means reaching the recommended internal temperature to kill bacteria and ensure it’s safe to eat. USDA recommends a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for pork steaks, chops, and roasts. As for ground pork, patties, and organs, the minimum safe internal temp is 160 degrees. 

But it’s okay if you want to take it as much as 200 degrees. And the best way to monitor the internal temp is by using a thermometer. You need something like the ThermoPro TP19H or any other digital instant-read thermometer. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Pork Smells Bad but It’s Not Expired, is It Still Safe to Eat?

If you catch a whiff of some stinky pork, even if it hasn’t reached its expiration date yet, chances are the pork has gone bad. Trust your nose in situations like this. That funky smell is a red flag for potential bacterial growth or other microorganism population.

What Causes Premature Spoilage?

First off, if you don’t store it right or let it hang out in the open air, it’s gonna go bad real quick. Also, if you leave it at room temperature for more than two hours, that’s a recipe for disaster. Oh, and watch out for cross-contamination during handling.

Can You Eat Pork Pink in the Middle?

You can enjoy a slightly pink middle, but make sure it hits 145°F (63°C) inside and let it rest. These can be cuts like pork chops, tenderloin, or pork loin. 

Raw Pork Meat on the Wooden Board


Now you know how to tell if pork is bad. Knowing if and when pork is bad is super important for keeping ourselves safe. It helps us avoid food poisoning or any foodborne illness. Trusting our senses is key here. If the pork smells really bad, and has a super stinky and sour odor, it’s a major red flag. Please don’t eat it! 

Watch out for any sliminess or weird colors too. Those are definite signs of spoilage. Don’t just rely on those “use-by” or “sell-by” dates, ’cause they’re not always accurate. 

Proper storage, good hygiene, and cooking at the right temps are all part of keeping pork fresh and safe. Take care of yourself and make smart choices with your food, alright?