Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple that can also be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. But what happens when you forget to put your bacon back in the fridge?
Does it go bad if left out? The answer is not as simple as you might think. While some types of bacon can last longer outside of the fridge, others can quickly become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of bacon and how long they can sit out before going bad. We’ll also discuss the dangers of foodborne illness and how to properly store and cook bacon to prevent infection.
So, whether you’re a bacon lover or just looking to avoid getting sick, read on to learn more about the shelf life of this delicious meat.
Does Bacon Go Bad If Left Out?
The short answer is yes, bacon can go bad if left out at room temperature for too long. Raw bacon should not sit out for more than 2 hours, as bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Salmonella can multiply rapidly at room temperature and cause severe foodborne illness when consumed.
However, not all types of bacon are created equal. Dry-cured bacon, which is cured with salt and sodium nitrates, can last much longer outside of the fridge due to its resistance to bacteria. The USDA recommends using dry-cured sliced bacon within ten days when unrefrigerated, and within four weeks if kept in the fridge. If the dry-cured bacon comes in a slab, it can last up to three weeks without the fridge and four to six weeks in the fridge.
Cooked bacon also has a different shelf life than raw bacon. Cured cooked bacon will not spoil if left at room temperature overnight, but it’s still best to refrigerate or eat it within two hours to avoid any potential bacterial growth. Some users even vouch that cooked bacon can sit out of the fridge for a couple of days, as long as it is not contaminated. However, this does not apply to “uncured” or unpreserved bacon without nitrites.
Different Types Of Bacon
When it comes to bacon, there are different types that you can find in the market. The most common types are dry-cured bacon and uncured bacon.
Dry-cured bacon is the most popular type of bacon and is cured with salt and sodium nitrates. This process helps to prevent bacterial growth and extends the shelf life of the bacon. Dry-cured bacon can come in both sliced and slab forms, with the latter lasting longer outside of the fridge due to its size. Dry-cured sliced bacon should be used within ten days when unrefrigerated, and within four weeks if kept in the fridge. On the other hand, dry-cured slab bacon can last up to three weeks without the fridge and four to six weeks in the fridge.
Uncured bacon, on the other hand, is not cured with nitrates or nitrites. Instead, it is typically cured with celery juice or other natural ingredients. While this may seem like a healthier option, uncured bacon has a shorter shelf life than dry-cured bacon and should be refrigerated at all times. Uncured bacon should not be left out for more than two hours to avoid bacterial growth.
It’s important to note that there are also different types of flavored bacon available in the market, such as maple or hickory-smoked bacon. These types of bacon are still considered dry-cured and follow similar shelf life guidelines as regular dry-cured bacon.
Shelf Life Of Bacon
The shelf life of raw bacon depends on how it is stored. If left at room temperature, raw bacon can keep for about 4 hours before it becomes unsafe to eat. To extend its shelf life, it is best to refrigerate or freeze it. Raw bacon can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks if the packaging is unopened. Once opened, it should be consumed within 5-7 days. For longer storage, raw bacon can be frozen for up to 3-6 months.
Cooked bacon, on the other hand, has a shorter shelf life than raw bacon. Cooked bacon is a perishable food and needs to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking. If left out at room temperature for too long, bacteria will start to grow and can cause food poisoning. Even if promptly refrigerated, cooked bacon is only safe to eat for four to five days. After that, the quality of the bacon will start to decline, and it will become more susceptible to bacterial growth.
Signs Of Spoiled Bacon
It’s important to pay close attention to the appearance, texture, and smell of your bacon to determine if it has gone bad. Fresh bacon should have pinkish-red meat with white fat marbled throughout. If you notice that the color has turned green, gray, or brown, this is a sign that bacteria and/or fungi have colonized your bacon, and it’s time to throw it away.
Spoiled bacon may also have a slimy or sticky texture instead of being soft and moist. Additionally, if your bacon has a sour smell, a fishy odor, or smells rotten, this is another sign that it has gone bad. Bacteria growth and rancidity can cause bacon to smell unpleasant and should be discarded immediately.
It’s crucial to note that spoiled bacon can contaminate other meats and products in your kitchen. Therefore, if you notice any signs of spoilage with your bacon, discard it immediately to avoid any potential health risks.
Dangers Of Eating Spoiled Bacon
Eating spoiled bacon can be dangerous and lead to food poisoning. Spoiled bacon can contain harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus and Salmonella, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chest pain, and dehydration. Additionally, consuming undercooked or raw bacon can increase the risk of toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms.
It’s important to pay attention to the color and smell of bacon to determine if it has gone bad. Spoiled bacon may have a sour, fishy, rotting, or unpleasant odor. The color of the bacon may also change to greenish or grayish and may have mold spots. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw away the bacon to avoid getting sick.
It’s crucial to store bacon correctly to decrease the risk of bacterial growth. Cooked bacon should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking, and raw bacon should not sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. If you have cooked bacon sitting out overnight, it’s best to throw it away to avoid any potential bacterial growth.
Proper Storage Of Bacon
To properly store bacon, it’s important to follow a few guidelines. Raw bacon should be refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible after purchase. If left at room temperature, it can only last for about 4 hours before bacteria growth becomes a concern. In the refrigerator, raw bacon can last up to 1-2 weeks if unopened and 5-7 days if opened. For frozen bacon, it can be kept for up to 3-6 months.
Cooked bacon should also be stored properly to prevent bacterial growth. It’s important to refrigerate or freeze cooked bacon within two hours of cooking to prevent any potential contamination. If left at room temperature for too long, bacteria will start to grow and can cause food poisoning. Even if you refrigerate your cooked bacon promptly, it’s still only safe to eat for four to five days.
To ensure the longest shelf life for your bacon, it’s best to store it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in the fridge or freezer. This will help prevent any air from getting in and causing the bacon to spoil faster.
Cooking Bacon Safely
When cooking bacon, it’s essential to follow proper food safety guidelines to prevent any contamination or bacterial growth. Here are some tips for cooking bacon safely:
1. Store raw bacon properly: If you’re not cooking the bacon right away, make sure to store it in the fridge or freezer. Raw bacon can last up to 1-2 weeks in the fridge and up to 3-6 months in the freezer.
2. Thaw frozen bacon safely: If you’re using frozen bacon, make sure to thaw it in the fridge or microwave before cooking. Never thaw bacon at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth.
3. Cook bacon thoroughly: Make sure to cook bacon until it’s crispy and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. This will help kill any bacteria that may be present on the meat.
4. Use separate utensils and cutting boards: To avoid cross-contamination, use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked bacon.
5. Store cooked bacon properly: If you have leftover cooked bacon, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four to five days. Make sure to refrigerate it within two hours of cooking.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your bacon is cooked safely and free from harmful bacteria. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.