Food that has spoiled will often have obvious, tell-tale signs that it’s time to toss them. Especially with meat, it will always let you know that it is way past its prime.
Sausage is no exception. While some types of sausage can last a really long time when properly stored, certain types are more perishable.
So how do you know when it’s time to toss that sausage in the bin? How do you tell if sausage is bad?
How To Tell If Sausage Is Bad?
Sausage has gone bad if it has an off-putting smell, unusual color or appearance, a change in flavor, and slimy texture. If sausage is past its expiration date even if there are no visible indications that it is spoiled, it is also best discarded.
How To Tell If Sausage Is Bad
Sausage that has gone bad will exhibit signs that will be discernible using our sense of smell, sight, taste, and touch.
Perhaps one of the first things you should check is the smell of the sausage. Fresh meat should smell like meat.
If your sausage has a very strong, offensive odor or if it smells like something just died, it is best discarded. It means bacteria has taken over and it has gone bad.
However, even if the smell isn’t that strong, and it smells off, or if it smells of something else, you are better off just throwing them away.
2. Color and Appearance
Fresh sausages that are fit to be consumed will generally be uniform in color and will not have any unusual spots or growths on them. They will usually be pinkish in color.
If your sausage has turned a grayish brown, it means it has started to spoil. Brown meat means oxidized meat, and while it may not necessarily be spoiled yet at this point, it is definitely on its way there and will definitely not taste as good as fresh sausages.
However, if your sausage has turned a green color or if you see mold or other strange growths on your sausage, you should definitely toss them in the bin.
Of course, color alone is not a reliable indicator that sausage has gone bad, as it would also depend on the type of sausage you have. This is why it is important to check for other signs as well.
For instance, Italian sausage can be pink in appearance even if it is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Read more at Can You Eat Pink Italian Sausage.
If you find that your sausage has developed a slimy coating or it has a strange slimy texture, it is an indication that it has gone bad and should be discarded.
If your sausage looks okay, smells okay and feels okay, but it tastes different, it is best not to consume it as flavor changes can indicate spoilage, even if we can’t see any evidence for it.
5. Expiration Date
Especially with meat products, it is important to be mindful of the expiration date of your pack of sausages. Even if your sausages are not showing any visible signs of spoilage, you should probably not consume them if they are past the expiration date.
Expiration dates give us an idea of when the meat was processed and packed and are the manufacturer’s way of letting consumers know the timeframe that the product is at its best quality.
Keeping tabs on the expiry date of your food products ensures that you only consume food that is fresh, delicious, and safe to eat.
How To Properly Store Sausage
Unless it is a dry sausage, fresh and cooked sausage should not be left outside for longer than two hours. Bacteria that cause food spoilage proliferate at temperatures between 40°F -140°F, also known as the food “danger zone”.
Leaving your sausages at these temperatures for longer than two hours, one hour if the room is above 90 °F, will guarantee their quick spoilage.
Sausage, especially if they are fresh and uncooked, should be properly and securely wrapped before storing in the fridge or the freezer to avoid cross-contamination.
Airtight containers specifically allocated for raw meat or freezer bags should work well in keeping your sausages fresh and safe.
Dry sausages, because of the curing process, are safe to leave at room temperature. (Read: Does Summer Sausage Need to Be Refrigerated?)
How Long Does Sausage Last in the Fridge?
Unless it is a dry sausage that lasts a very long time, sausages are generally perishable and do not have a very long shelf life.
The USDA recommends that all types of sausage should be kept safely in the fridge or freezer until ready to be used.
Fresh, uncooked sausage only lasts 1-2 days when stored in the fridge. Once cooked, it can be kept for a maximum of 4 days.
Unopened packs of cooked sausage like hotdogs will last in the refrigerator for about two weeks in the fridge before it goes bad. Once opened, it will remain good for about a week.
Unopened packs of whole, dry sausage will last about a month when kept in a cool, dry place in the pantry. When stored in the fridge, the USDA says they can last almost indefinitely.
These timelines are, of course, only a guide. We still must practice caution and use our sense of smell, touch, and sight in determining whether our sausage is still good to eat.
If something looks or smells off, even if it is still within the proposed timelines, it is still best to err on the side of caution and not consume it.
How Long Does Sausage Last in the Freezer?
We know that all kinds of food will last pretty much forever in the freezer because bacteria that cause food spoilage cannot act at those cold temperatures.
However, food does deteriorate in quality when kept in the freezer for too long. The texture changes due to crystallization and after some time, they will not be enjoyable to eat.
This also holds true for sausages. The USDA recommends that most types of sausages only be stored in the freezer for about 1 to 2 months, and sausages cooked by the consumer, for about 2-3 months.
When storing in the freezer, make sure that sausages are kept in an airtight container or kept properly wrapped in freezer bags to avoid freezer burn and contamination with other food.
What Happens If I Eat Bad Sausage?
Eating bad or spoiled sausage endangers your health and puts you at risk of getting a food-borne illness. Cooking spoiled meat does not really neutralize toxins released by bacteria and pathogens that cause food spoilage, and consuming contaminated meat can make you very, very sick.
Some symptoms you may experience when consuming bad sausage includes:
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle cramps
- Neurological issues
Symptoms may resolve in a few days but may also persist for weeks depending on severity, and may also possibly lead to hospitalization and in some cases, even be life-threatening.
It certainly isn’t worth all the trouble and discomfort of eating something that will probably not taste good anyway.
Frequently Asked Questions to How To Tell if Sausage Is Bad
What Does Bad Sausage Smell Like?
Sausage that has gone bad will have a strong, off-putting odor that is hard to miss. Fresh meat should smell like meat. If it has any other strong smell, it means it has gone bad.
What Does Bad Sausage Look Like?
Bad sausage will have a strange grayish brown or green color, discolored spots and slimy texture.
Conclusion to How Do I Tell If Sausage Is Bad
Sausage that has gone bad will have an off-smell, unusual color or appearance, and slimy texture. Sausage in general has a very short shelf life, and if you are not planning to cook them right away, they are best stored in the freezer for later use, or best to buy them closer to when you will need them.