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You are watching: What is the number-one cause of spoiled meat?

We all have experienced encounters through spoiled meat: whether us walked a questionable item of meat around to our family members members to have actually them smell and also assess; rinsed turn off the meat and then examined the smell, color, and also texture; or offered it a shot and also cooked it, only to recognize after taking a bite that the meat was, indeed, spoiled.

Determining the main reasons of meat spoilage permits us to prevent it native happening. We can discover the major issues without engaging in a full microbiology course. The main reason of spoiled meat is heat, and also that is due to the fact that the presence of warmth is a catalyst to every the main reasons the meat spoils.

What happens once an pet is slaughtered for consumption? after death, cell no longer regenerate, therefore the existing cells begin to break down and the meat starts to spoil. This destruction is inevitable, however heat and light accelerate the process significantly.

Therefore, one could argue the microorganisms such together bacteria and also mold room the main causes of meat spoilage, but since heat is the activator that promotes the growth of the microorganisms, we can likewise state that heat is the main cause of spoiled meat.


The expansion of microbe fundamentally transforms the structure and also chemical properties of meat. This microorganisms failure fats and also proteins, causing changes in the meat’s smell, appearance, and also texture. This physical transforms are signs that the meat have to not it is in consumed and are proof that eat the meat can cause serious health issues.

Foodborne illnesses room nothing to it is in trifled with; the human being Health organization (WHO) approximates that globally, 420,000 human beings die native unsafe food every year, and also 600 million humans obtain sick. Spoiled meat contributes to this staggering numbers.

Bacteria and mold room by far the most typical microorganisms that cause meat spoilage and heat is the most an effective conductor for both.



Heat creates moisture, particularly when meat is packaged in a means that is not airtight (this is why many civilization prefer food vacuum sealers that eliminate excess oxygen and also moisture.) as soon as there is too lot moisture present, mold takes a foothold on her meat, feeling complimentary to grow and also multiply across the surface ar of the meat.

Again, heat is the conductor that permits mold to swiftly multiply and also spoil her meat.

Signs and symptoms of mold spoilageHeat, heat, heat and also moisture, moisture, moisture. Because that mold, it’s all about the warm, moist environment that will certainly colonize her meat quicker than you can blink. Mold is super basic to see with its fuzzy greenish texture crawling all over the surface ar of your meat.

Indicators can encompass the following:

Change in color under the moldGassy or ammonia favor smellChange in fat texture and compositionSticky surface

Other species of Spoilage

OxidationOxidation is a chemistry reaction the leads come rancid meat. Oxidation occurs when food is not packaged properly and also the oxygen and moisture react with the fat naturally present in the meat and also then the meat spoils.

Certainly, as we know that higher temperatures develop moisture, together heat accelerates the oxidation process.

Signs and also symptoms of oxidation spoilageWhen meat fat interacts v the oxygen, the resulting change will be noticeable by a sour smell, change in shade to greenish-brown, and an clear spoiled taste. Friend might notification a slimy film on the meat throughout oxidation.

Note: no all oxidation way your meat is spoiled. Meat regularly starts to rotate brown while it’s still an excellent to eat. Make sure you smell it and also look for slimy coating. If that smells OK, it can still be edible.

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How warm is Hot?

Amazingly enough, 40 °F (4.44 °C) is the temperature in ~ which meat starts to spoil. The longer the meat is exposed come temperatures above 40 degrees, the faster the meat will certainly spoil. According to the USDA website, the danger Zone for meat spoilage is between 40 °F to 140 °F (4.4 °C to 60 °C).

Raw meat of any type of kind (and deli meat) need to be retained in the refrigerator, freezer, or top top iceCooked meat need to be kept warm at a minimum that 140 °F (unless you’re putting it earlier in the refrigerator after eating)The maximum time for any meat to it is in in the USDA’s hazard Zone is two hrs (that method that deli sandwich girlfriend left in the auto overnight is currently inedible — throw it out)If you room in a ar with temperatures in overfill of 90 °F or a hot car, the danger Zone is reduced to one hour

Pro tip: part deli meats, ham, and bacon have actually nitrites included and the high salt contents may permit you to save them in her refrigerator much longer than raw meat, yet these meats still room bound come the temperature rule.

Note the many species of deli meat today space uncured or have actually no nitrates added. If this is a healthier choice (sodium nitrate increases your hazard of cardiovascular floor beef, lamb, veal, and also pork: minimum inner temperature the 160 °F (71.1 °C)disease), uncured meats have actually no preservatives, therefore they will spoil much more quickly than their cured counterparts.

A last Note on HeatWhile exposure to heat stimulates bacteria and also mold growth, heat also helps united state eat meat without acquiring sick. Always cook meat and poultry in ~ a minimum stove temperature the 325 °F (162.8 °C).

Minimum internal temperatures because that meats and poultry:

Beef, lamb, pork, veal (roasts, steaks, and chops): minimum inner temperature 145 °F (62.8 °C)Ground beef, lamb, veal, and pork: minimum inner temperature that 160 °F (71.1 °C)Poultry: minimum interior temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C)

Read associated Article: How can You tell if Pork is Spoiled?


It’s essential to recognize why heat is such a superconductor because that bacteria, mold, and oxidation which destroys healthy and balanced meat faster. With a solid knowledge of for sure temperatures because that meat preservation, you deserve to make sure your meat continues to be fresh as lengthy as possible. Girlfriend not just save money, however you likewise decrease her carbon footprint by throw away far less food.

And much more importantly, avoiding the spread of microorganisms decreases the chance that girlfriend or your loved ones will become sick through foodborne illness, which is uncomfortable and painful at the least and also in extreme situations fatal.

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Keeping our love ones safe is always our peak priority, and being armed with the right details helps us carry out that.