Is Bacon OK To Eat After Use By Date? (According To Experts)

Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple that many of us can’t imagine starting our day without. But what happens when you realize that the bacon in your fridge has passed its use-by date?

Is it still safe to eat?

The answer may surprise you.

In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of bacon, how to properly store it, and whether or not it’s okay to consume after the use-by date.

So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

Is Bacon OK To Eat After Use By Date?

The short answer is no, it is not recommended to eat bacon after its use-by date. The use-by date is there for a reason – to indicate when the product may no longer be safe to eat. Even if the bacon has not been opened, bacteria can still be present and may continue to grow beyond the use-by date.

Consuming spoiled bacon can lead to food poisoning and other health issues, so it’s important to always check the use-by date when purchasing bacon and to follow it when deciding when to consume the product.

Understanding The Use-By Date On Bacon Packaging

When inspecting a package of bacon, it’s important to look for a use-by or sell-by 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. The use-by date indicates when the product passes peak quality and is no longer safe to consume. On the other hand, a sell-by date helps grocery managers move inventory through their stores, ensuring that customers receive fresh products.

The use-by or sell-by date may appear in different formats, including the Julian date code, which utilizes a five-digit number in the format XX-XXX. The first two numbers refer to the year, while the last three digits refer to the day of the year. For example, a code of 22-023 would mean January 23, 2022.

If your bacon has a sell-by date, it’s recommended to use it within one week after the date listed or freeze it for up to a month. However, if your bacon has a use-by date or best-if-used-by date, it’s important to discard it once it has exceeded that date.

It’s also important to note that all foods have a shorter lifespan if not stored properly. Bacon should be kept refrigerated at all times and discarded if left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Unopened bacon may be kept in its original store packaging when refrigerating and should not be opened until ready to use. Properly stored unopened bacon will maintain its best quality for about one to two months in the freezer.

The Shelf Life Of Bacon: How Long Does It Last?

The shelf life of bacon varies depending on several factors, including how it’s stored, whether or not it’s cooked, and what type of bacon it is. Unopened bacon can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator and up to eight months in the freezer. However, once opened, the shelf life of bacon decreases significantly.

Raw bacon in an opened package that has been resealed will last up to a week in the fridge, while cooked bacon will last four to five days if it’s properly stored. If you choose to save bacon grease after cooking, it can be refrigerated for six months or frozen for up to nine months before going rancid.

Certain varieties of bacon may also have a different shelf life. For example, cooked Canadian bacon can be refrigerated for three to four days or frozen for four to eight weeks. Other varieties like pancetta, turkey bacon, and beef bacon all last approximately the same amount of time in the fridge or freezer as regular bacon.

To maximize the shelf life of your opened bacon, store it in a resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Always check your bacon regularly and discard it immediately if it has spoiled to prevent contaminating other products.

Proper Storage Of Bacon: Tips To Keep It Fresh

Proper storage of bacon is important to keep it fresh and safe to eat. Here are some tips to help you store your bacon:

1. Uncooked Bacon:

Unopened packages of uncooked bacon can be stored in an airtight container, plastic bag, in plastic wrap, or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. Once opened, it’s best to keep it tightly wrapped in foil or a zip-top bag and use within one week. Sealed packages of bacon can be frozen up to one month before the fat begins to go rancid. You can separate a package of bacon into 4-piece serving sizes for freezing. Be sure they are very tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and labeled with the date. These frozen single portions will keep several weeks in the freezer. Plan in advance to thaw bacon in the refrigerator to reduce splatters during cooking.

2. Cooked Bacon:

Cooked bacon is handy to have around to add to a recipe, use in a salad, or reheat for breakfast. When you pre-cook bacon for reheating later, undercook it a little bit from what is your ideal. This way, when you reheat it, it doesn’t become overcooked. Store cooked bacon strips between sheets of paper towels in an airtight container. The paper towels provide some cushion so the bacon doesn’t break, as well as prevent the fat from congealing to other bacon strips. If you have portions of crumbled bacon, gently wrap them in paper towels and then store in an airtight container or wrapped with plastic wrap. Cooked bacon stays fresh in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

3. Refrigeration:

Even if bacon is cured or naturally-cured, it can still be prone to spoilage if left too long at room temperature. To help keep it fresh for the next few days, rely on the refrigerator. When stored at or below the ideal temperature of 40oF, the growth of harmful bacteria is slowed. This helps prevent your bacon from going bad. Before you pop your bacon strips in the refrigerator, allow them to cool to room temperature. This will limit the formation of condensation after you seal the bacon, which will help it stay as crispy as possible. Once the meat is cool to the touch, place it in an airtight bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag and placing it in the refrigerator.

4. Freezing:

If you need to store your bacon for a longer period of time, freezing is an option. Raw bacon can be left frozen for up to one month before the fat becomes rancid and affects its flavor, but it can last up to 6 months if kept in the freezer. Cooked bacon has a shorter shelf life and can last around 4-5 days in the fridge but can last up to 1 month if kept frozen.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your bacon stays fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible. Remember to always check the use-by date when purchasing bacon and follow proper storage techniques to avoid any health risks associated with spoiled food.

Signs That Your Bacon Has Gone Bad

It’s important to pay close attention to the smell, texture, and appearance of your bacon to determine if it has gone bad. Here are some signs to look out for:

1. Discoloration: Fresh bacon should be pink or red with white or yellow streaks. If you notice any spots of brown, gray, green, or blue tinge, it’s a definite sign that your bacon has gone rancid and should be thrown away immediately.

2. Slimy or sticky texture: Fresh bacon should feel soft and a bit moist. If you notice that your bacon is slimy or sticky, it’s an indicator that certain types of bacteria have begun breaking down the meat. This is a sure sign that your bacon has been colonized by bacteria and should be discarded.

3. Unpleasant odor: Fresh bacon will always have its natural meaty smell. If your bacon smells sour, fishy, rotting, or just really unpleasant, it’s a sign that bacteria growth and rancidity have set in. This is another clear indication that your bacon has gone bad and should not be consumed.

4. Mold: Small areas of mold on your bacon can be white, black, or green and are also indicators that your bacon is no longer good. If you notice any mold on your bacon, toss it right away.

5. Changes in color, smell, or texture: Any changes in the color, smell, or texture of your bacon can indicate spoilage. If your bacon looks dull in color or smells off, it’s likely on its way out.

Risks Of Consuming Expired Bacon

Consuming expired bacon can pose several risks to your health due to the presence of harmful bacteria, parasites, and other microbes. Spoiled bacon can have a sour taste and may display signs of bacterial growth such as mold, off-color, slimy texture, and bad odor. Eating such bacon can lead to food poisoning, which may cause symptoms like stomach cramps, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, high fever, and diarrhea.

Raw or undercooked bacon that has gone bad can increase your risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. These parasites can cause severe health complications like muscle pain, fever, nausea, and even death in some cases.

Expired bacon also has a high risk of containing large amounts of bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Bacillus, Clostridium, and Escherichia coli. These bacteria can cause severe food poisoning that may require hospitalization. Symptoms of food poisoning from bad bacon may include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headache, and body aches.

It’s important to note that bacon belongs to the meat group that is highly perishable. Even if the bacon has not passed its use-by date but displays signs of spoilage like off-color or bad odor, it’s best to discard it. Always store your bacon correctly in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F to decrease the chances of getting sick.