Bacon is one of the proteins that most of us have in our fridge at all times, ready to cook. It can add a feast of flavor to a quick and tasty meal, all in a matter of minutes. But what if you open your fridge and your bacon is gray? Can and should you still use it? Is it even safe to use? Let’s answer all those questions.
Bacon shouldn’t look gray; the meat of the bacon should have a natural light pink color, and the fat should be white. Grey or discolored bacon is a definite sign that the bacon is spoiled, and so much more if the bacon is slimy, smells sour, and doesn’t smell like smokey cured bacon.
Bacon won’t look like raw pork since the curing process breaks down pork’s color pigmentation. Exposure to elements such as oxygen and light can also change how bacon looks when it is still raw.
Nevertheless, bacon should not look gray, and this is an immediate sign that you should return your bacon if you purchased it recently.
Why Is My Bacon Turning Gray?
Bacon that’s turning gray or brown is a sign that bacteria is starting to grow on your bacon. Obviously, This is even worse if your bacon has green or blue moldy discoloration.
Bacon should never have a slimy, excessive wet texture to it, either. Many of these other factors may accompany the grayish tint in your bacon, further confirming that it is not good to eat anymore.
Also, don’t be afraid to smell your food. Our noses are there precisely for this purpose – to tell us if it is safe to eat something. So we should use our noses more often. Trust your senses; if the bacon looks, feels, or smells off, it probably is.
If your bacon smells sour or like rotting meat, then it is most likely rotten and not safe to be consumed.
Can You Rinse Bacon If It’s Bad?
You can not wash away the bacteria that grow on raw bacon. Your bacon is completely spoiled and not safe for consumption. The USDA recommendation for handling raw bacon is to never rinse it before cooking.
If there are any bacteria on the bacon, then the cooking process will kill bacteria that are unsafe to consume unless the bacteria has already spread too far.
Rinsing cannot save bacon if it is gray or brown. It will only worsen matters because you are still attempting to save the bacon from a bad situation. In the process, you can introduce the bacon to other bacteria from the surrounding environment, which is not good either.
What Could Happen If I Eat Bacon That Is Gray?
All pork (including smoked, cured, and uncured bacon) has bacteria on it at the best of times. The only safe way to kill off the bacteria is by cooking the meat thoroughly. The foodborne pathogens found on raw bacon are harmful to us if the bacon is not cooked correctly.
Here are some of the pathogens found on raw bacon, and the only way to kill these bacteria and not contract any foodborne illness from raw and gray bacon is by cooking the bacon properly:
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Toxoplasmosis gondii
- Yersinia enterocolitica
Another parasite found in pork is Trichinella spiralis (larvae of a roundworm). As with the other bacteria, cooking thoroughly kills the harmful bacteria.
High temperatures kill both parasites and bacteria, but the further they spread, the more difficult this will be. So technically, you can eat gray bacon, but it’s definitely not safe, and you should discard it instead.
If you eat gray bacon and start noticing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps, you should get advice from a medical professional.
What To Look For When Purchasing Bacon
When you purchase bacon, look for an expiration date, as this can make your life much easier. If you can’t see a “best before” date, look at the quality of the meat.
Fresh bacon consists of light pink meat with a bit of white or yellow fat. It should not be discolored with a brown or grey color.
Leave the bacon for last, grabbing it on your way to the checkout desk. Bacon is a meat that should be handled with care. Also, if you need to run other errands before you head home, hold off with the bacon and buy it on your way home.
Do not leave the bacon in a hot car and think it would still be safe for later consumption.
How Long Can You Refrigerate Bacon Before It Turns Grey?
Place bacon in the fridge immediately after you purchase it unless you plan to start with dinner immediately. That should be safe enough. Your raw bacon should always stay refrigerated at 40°F and below.
An exception to this is shelf-stable, cooked bacon, which should be stored at 85°F, but after opening it, you should also refrigerate it at 40°F or lower.
Also, keep your eye on that bacon package. Always use your bacon before the “use by” date. Raw bacon should always be used within seven days if stored in the refrigerator.
If there is any discoloration before that time, you should not consume it, even more so if it smells sour.
If you see that you will not get by to cook the bacon before the seven days, you should freeze it; this way, it will stay fresher for longer (up to four months).
What Happens If You Thaw Bacon And Use It Days Later?
First, USDA health and safety regulations say you should never leave bacon to thaw on the counter or at room temperature. The three safest ways to thaw bacon are in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or under cold water.
If you are diligent at planning your meals, you can thaw bacon this way. What makes this method one of the best ways is that if you happen not to use it that evening, the bacon will be safe to use for another seven days.
After you have thawed the bacon in the microwave, you should cook it immediately. There could be some parts that have already started to warm up. This means that the cooking process has begun, and the bacteria can start to spread on the bacon.
If you want to leave it for later, you can just as well throw it away because it will turn grey or brown.
If you use the cold-water method to thaw your bacon, you should also place it in a plastic bag to ensure it is completely leak-proof. You do not want any water to come close to the bacon and contaminate it with other bacteria.
To continue the thawing process, you should change the cold water with new cold water every 30 minutes. This is the process that needs the most attention by far to ensure that it thaws properly.
After the bacon is thawed, you should cook it immediately; never put it back in the refrigerator uncooked.
Now you can really “bring home the bacon” safely. Ensure that it does not become dull and gray before you have had a chance to enjoy this delectable and versatile meat.
If you respect the process and handle your food safely, you can enjoy your bacon for up to seven days without a chance of it turning bad on you.
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