Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple that can also be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes.
But what happens when you find a pack of bacon in your fridge that’s past its expiration date? Is it still safe to eat?
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of bacon, how to properly store it, and how to tell if it’s gone bad.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
Can You Eat Bacon After Expiration Date?
The short answer is no, you should not eat bacon that’s past its expiration date. The expiration date is there for a reason – to indicate when the bacon is no longer safe to consume.
However, it’s important to note that there are two types of dates on bacon packaging: “sell by” and “use by”. The “sell by” date is simply a guide for retailers to know when to remove the product from their shelves. Bacon can still be safe to eat up to 7 days past its “sell by” date if it has been properly stored.
On the other hand, the “use by” date is the date by which the bacon should be consumed. If the “use by” date has passed, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw the bacon away.
Understanding The Expiration Date On Bacon
When it comes to understanding the expiration date on bacon, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to check the packaging for a date. While the USDA doesn’t require manufacturers to label bacon with a date, many companies choose to add a “use by” or “sell by” date.
If you see a date on the package, it’s important to take note of whether it’s a “sell by” or “use by” date. A “sell by” date helps grocery managers move inventory through their stores, so you receive fresh products. If your bacon has a “sell by” date, use it within one week after the date listed, or freeze it for up to a month.
A “use by” date (or “best if used by” date) indicates when a product passes peak quality. The USDA advises tossing bacon that has exceeded its “use by” date. It’s important to note that even if the bacon looks and smells fine after the “use by” date, it may not be safe to eat.
If there is no date on the package, you can use your senses to determine if the bacon is still good. If the bacon looks slimy or has a rancid smell, it’s best to discard it. Additionally, if the bacon has been stored improperly, it may have gone bad even before the expiration date.
Proper storage is key when it comes to extending the shelf life of bacon. Unopened bacon can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 8 months in the freezer. Once opened, raw bacon should remain fresh for about a week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. Cooked bacon that has been stored properly can last around 4-5 days in the refrigerator and up to 1 month in the freezer.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Bacon
There are several factors that can affect the shelf life of bacon, including its type, storage method, and whether it has been opened or cooked.
The type of bacon can play a role in how long it will last. For example, uncured bacon typically has a shorter shelf life than cured bacon due to the lack of preservatives. Additionally, thick-cut bacon may have a longer shelf life than thin-cut bacon because it is less likely to dry out.
Proper storage is also crucial for maximizing the shelf life of bacon. Bacon should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F. If the package has been opened, it should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent exposure to air, which can cause it to spoil more quickly. Bacon can also be frozen for longer storage, with a shelf life of 6-8 months in the freezer.
Cooked bacon will generally have a shorter shelf life than raw bacon. Once cooked, bacon should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 4-5 days.
Finally, it’s important to note that any signs of spoilage or off odors should be taken seriously when it comes to bacon. Moldy flecks, a sour smell, or an unusual color are all indicators that the bacon has gone bad and should be discarded immediately.
Proper Storage Of Bacon To Extend Its Shelf Life
Proper storage of bacon is key to extending its shelf life and ensuring it stays safe to eat. Uncooked and unopened bacon can be stored as is, but if freezing, it’s recommended to wrap the package with tin foil to prevent freezer burn. Once opened, uncooked bacon should be wrapped in tin foil or stored in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked bacon should be separated into small portions and wrapped with paper towels prior to freezing.
When refrigerating opened bacon, it’s important to maximize its freshness by placing the opened package inside a resealable plastic bag or wrapping it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. To extend its shelf life, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F (4°C). Nitrate-free uncured bacon typically has a shorter shelf life than regular cooked bacon and should be eaten within two to three days after cooking or opening the package.
If you don’t plan on eating the bacon within three days, then freezing it is an option. Nitrate-free uncured bacon can be kept frozen for up to one month. When freezing bacon, overwrap the original store packaging with airtight heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper or place the package inside a heavy-duty freezer bag in order to prevent freezer burn.
It’s important to note that unsliced slabs of bacon should not be frozen, as they can turn rancid very quickly. Instead, they can be wrapped with foil or placed in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks at a time.
By following these simple guidelines, you can make sure that your cooked and pre-cooked bacon stays fresh and safe to eat. Remember to always check how long does cooked bacon last in the fridge and how to store it properly so that you can enjoy your bacon safely.
Signs That Bacon Has Gone Bad
It’s important to know the signs that indicate bacon has gone bad to avoid the risk of food poisoning. One of the most noticeable signs is discoloration. Fresh bacon should have pinkish-red meat with white fat marbling, but if it appears green, gray, brown, or has any spots of mold, it’s time to toss it out.
Another way to tell if bacon has gone bad is by its smell. Good bacon has a fresh, meaty smell, but spoiled bacon may have a sour, fishy, rotting, or unpleasant odor. If the bacon smells off in any way, it’s best to discard it.
Lastly, the texture of the bacon can also indicate spoilage. If the bacon feels slimy or sticky to the touch, it’s a sign that bacteria and/or fungi have colonized it and it’s no longer safe for consumption.
Risks Of Consuming Expired Bacon
Consuming expired bacon can pose serious health risks due to the presence of harmful bacteria and other microbes that can cause food poisoning. Spoiled bacon may have a sour taste and exhibit signs of spoilage such as off color, slimy texture, bad odor, or mold growth. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the bacon immediately.
Bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus are commonly associated with food poisoning and can cause symptoms such as stomach cramps, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, high fever, and diarrhea. In some cases, food poisoning from bad bacon can lead to hospitalization.
Eating raw or undercooked bacon that has gone bad can also increase the risk of parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. Raw or rotten meat of any kind can harbor viruses, bacteria, and parasites that can cause food poisoning.
It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning from bad bacon may surface quickly or take weeks to appear. If you suspect that you have consumed bad bacon and are experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, or dehydration, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately.
To avoid the risks of consuming expired bacon, it’s crucial to properly store bacon and check for signs of spoilage before consuming it. Fresh bacon should display a white or pinkish color and should not have a bad odor or slimy texture. Always make sure to examine your bacon carefully before cooking and discard any that shows signs of spoilage.
What To Do With Expired Bacon
If you have bacon that has passed its expiration date, it’s important to dispose of it properly. The first step is to check if the bacon has any signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell, unusual color, or slimy texture. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw the bacon away immediately to prevent it from contaminating your other food products.
If the bacon doesn’t show any signs of spoilage but has passed its “use by” date, you may still be able to use it if you cook it thoroughly. Cooking the bacon at a high temperature can kill any bacteria that may be present and make it safe to eat. However, this is not recommended as there’s still a risk of food poisoning.
Another option is to freeze the bacon before its expiration date. Freezing can extend the shelf life of bacon for up to 6-8 months. If you have frozen bacon that has passed its expiration date, it’s still safe to eat as long as it was stored properly and doesn’t show any signs of spoilage.