How to tell if Pork is Bad? Pork Cooking Guide

How to tell if pork is cooked?

I’m sure pork is a lump of delicious meat relished by everyone. The variety and flavor density it offers is just remarkable. However, this tasty meat is not immune to spoilage caused by bacteria. Spoiled pork can be the reason for innumerable stomach issues like pain, cramps, nausea, and even diarrhea. Even though I have dealt with this situation quite a few times, my love for pork doesn’t falter!

You wouldn’t want to throw away your pork! It is, therefore, necessary to make sure that the pork that you are consuming has not gone bad due to bacterial action. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

On that note, here are a few tips and tricks that I have learnt over the years that will answer your question of how to tell if pork is bad. More on how to find out if pork has gone bad, check on my other article.

make sure pork is done

Tips on how to tell if pork is bad

1. The smell is your tell

One day you wake up with the thought of having some quality pork in lunch. You open the freezer door, and the next thing you know is you have hit the floor because of a disgusting smell! I hate this feeling, nobody’s pork should go bad!

The case might not be as severe as this, but the basic identification of anything getting spoiled is the change in smell. Bacterial action will degrade the meat protein, leaving behind an awful smell.

So, the first tip for how to tell if pork is bad is to sniff it properly.

Not every time a different smell can be indicative of the pork being rotten. Some pork that is vacuum sealed for the purpose of packaging acquires a different smell. This smell is not permanent and goes off once you wash the pork properly with water.

Before throwing the pork away, wash it and see if the smell still sticks. If it does, then you can be sure that the pork has gone bad.

It is important, that pork is being cooked to perfection –  I have written an article about cooking pork to perfection. You can read about it here.

2. Think if it’s not pink!

My second tip for you to know if the pork is bad is to check for any change in the color.

If the pork is fresh, it will have a pink color with a few strands of white scattered all over. A color change is one of the primary signs of spoiled pork. As the protein gets degraded, it changes color from pink to brown. This further changes to a pale grey and sometimes I have even experienced it to be green.

A change is indicative of yeast action on the meat. It can also be because of the presence of mold or spoilage caused by freezer burns.

If your pork is healthy for consumption, it will be pinkish-red in color. Any changes into a darker shade are a clear indication of the pork gone bad over time.

The scattered white lines are of fat. Ideally, the fat should be white in color. So, even if the pork appears reddish, but the fat has a yellowish tinge, I would suggest that you do not risk it.

Sometimes, this color change can also be superficial. If you are doubtful, simply slice off a layer of the pork that shows discolouration. The layers underneath might be  pretty pink,  it means you are good to go. If it’s not, then it’s better to dump it than suffer from some sickness!

how to tell if pork is bad

3. Does it feel different?

The third tip for how to tell if pork is bad is to check how the meat feels.

The best quality of meat is that every protein has a different texture, which gives it a certain uniqueness. The sense of touch can help determine if the pork has gone bad.

A fresh cut pound of pork will be firm to touch. Before making a purchase or giving a judgment on the pork in your freezer, squeeze it properly. I generally tap the entire surface to check for any abnormality.

The texture will change if the pork is too dry or too moist. Even the slightest change in texture can be indicative of some bacterial damage. Be sure about the same before using the pork in meals.

4. Was the packaging perfect?

Another important tip for how to tell if the pork is bad is to check the packaging carefully.

The packaging plays an important role for highly perishable items like meat and dairy. A slight compromise in the same can result in ruining the product.

That is the primary reason why a high-end meat shop sells pork in vacuum-sealed packs. A vacuum seal ensures that the meat is protected from air contamination from all sides.

Even if you prefer to go for loose pork, make sure it is packed well so that it does not lose its integrity till the time you wish to prepare it.

Also, keep an eye on the packaging label! The pork piece might be appearing fresh and juicy in the packaging, but it actually might be way off the expiry date. Never risk it if that is the case.

5. Not every green thing is healthy!

The variety of colors in which mold can present itself on your pork is truly amazing. However, a layer of green or back is indicative of the growth of mold on the pork. Thus, another important tip for how to tell if the pork is bad is to see if the surface is clear of greens.

Mold accumulation can also be a sign of improper storage that resulted in the pork getting bad. As per my knowledge, mold usually thrives in moist conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to store the pork in a cool and dry place.

The mold might just appear as a patch of black or green on the surface of the pork, but don’t be too quick on your judgment. The filamentous nature of mold results in deep seating of its seeds, which might be invisible to the naked eye.

Try not to risk it by wiping the mold off and using the remaining bad pork. You can put yourself and your family at a huge risk of stomach or intestine infection.


Can the pork go bad after cooking?

Sometimes we might choose to ignore any smell or small signs of degradation in pork. You might still opt to chop it off and prepare a delicious meal for your family. However, even after cooking, you can tell if the pork is bad or not.

Even though a slice of bad pork will give a foul and undesirable smell in the raw state, the same might increase manifolds after cooking.

If the sour taste and unpleasing smell persist, rather gets stronger after cooking, it is better to toss it out than to regret it later.

How to keep different varieties of pork fresh?

Pork is a versatile meat that gives a range of delectable items. All these items aren’t just unique in their taste, they are also unique when it comes to their storage. Knowing about the storage properties of each pork item can be a great indication of how to tell if the pork is bad.

Pork chops

Generally, fresh pork chops have a shelf life of about three to five days at about four degrees Celsius.

The sign of a fresh pork chop is that it is grayish pink in appearance and firm to touch. Before purchasing to check the meat using all your senses. Don’t compromise on the quality!

If you opt for frozen options, make sure to thaw it either in the refrigerator or in a cold-water bath. Avoid bringing it to room temperature. If that happens, try to consume it or dispose of it. Never refreeze a pork chop that has come down to room temperature, yes, I say that out of experience again!

Otherwise, you can refreeze it for as long as you want, provided it is kept below freezing temperature.

Pork loin

A fresh-cut pork loin can be kept fresh and healthy for three to five days at around four degrees Celsius.  I always make sure it is stored in a resealable bag.

Keeping the pork open in the refrigerator can result in it attracting funny smells from other food items. To avoid that, I’d say pack the pork loin in good quality freezer bags.

In case of a frozen pork loin, thaw it in the refrigerator or cold-water bath. You can store it after refreezing for another three to five days, provided it is raw.

Pork sausage

A fresh pork sausage has a shelf life of about three to five days. It can be stored at a temperature of four degrees Celsius and remain fresh and healthy.

It can get a bit tricky when it comes to checking if the pork has gone bad in the sausage. This is because of the additional smell coming from the spices. In that case, use the sense of touch to know if it is bad or good.

A frozen sausage can also be stored for a longer duration before you plan to consume it. However, unlike other items, sausages lose their flavor and texture on refreezing and thus, don’t taste nice. So, if you don’t plan to consume it, better not to thaw it.

Ground pork

When it comes to storage and later consumption, I don’t think ground pork will prove to be a very desirable option. It is cut out for immediate consumption, so storage can be a bit tricky.

Ideally, ground pork lasts for up to two days, maximum, in the refrigerator. Keep it in sealed bags to prevent the chances of contamination.

If you wish to store the ground pork for an even longer duration, you can increase its shelf life by keeping it in sealed bags inside the freezer.

It is better to consume ground pork immediately as it only lasts for four days, even at below freezing temperature.

Tips on how to store pork properly:

When it comes to meat, storage plays a very important role. Improper storage is the primary cause of pork going bad sooner than expected.

Here are few things to keep in mind to keep your pork fresh and healthy for a longer time.

Storing the pork in the refrigerator

It is not mandatory to store the pork in the freezer. If kept properly, the pork will not go bad even in the refrigerator.

I invested in some quality freezer pouches and they proved to be extremely helpful. This not just keeps the pork fresh; it also prevents it from attracting different odors from other food items.

Check the package label carefully before storing it. If you don’t plan to prepare the pork immediately after purchase, keep it in sealed bags to avoid the pork from spoilage or contamination.

Items like bacon, sausages, smoked ham, etc., can stay fresh for as long as seven days in a refrigerator. But ground pork needs to be consumed within a day or two of storage.

Storing the pork in the freezer

A freezer is a perfect option for storing pork on a long term basis. In lower temperatures, the protein maintains its integrity and stays fresh for months together.

Make sure not to refreeze the meet frequently. It not just spoils the flavor but also ruins the texture of the protein. Refreezing results in the formation of ice crystals that can impact overall protein integrity.

Wrap the pork properly from all sides. Improper packaging can result in freezer burns that result in spoiled pork.


To sum it up

When it comes to knowing how to tell if the pork is bad, you need to make full use of all your senses.

Be it smell, vision, or tactile, you can be absolutely sure only when the pork passes all the quality checks. Check the fragrance, firmness, and color of the pork before finalizing the purchase. It is better to take your time before making a choice than to haste and buy something that takes you on a food poisoning ride.

Make sure you read the package labels carefully to avoid buying pork that is on the verge of getting ruined. If you prefer buying pork from the butcher, never hesitate in asking a question related to the quality and life of the meat.

Try to avoid storing pork for a longer duration. Even though freezing raw pork before thawing helps in increasing the shelf life for months. But still, it is not worth the risk.


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