How can you tell if bacon is bad?

Bacon is a popular breakfast meat that can go bad quickly if not stored properly. Knowing how to tell if your bacon is spoiled can help prevent foodborne illness. Here are some tips for determining if bacon is still good to eat or if it’s time to throw it out.

Check the Sell-by Date

Fresh bacon will have a sell-by date printed on the package. This date indicates the last day the retailer can display the bacon for sale. Bacon should be cooked or frozen within 1-2 weeks after the sell-by date for optimal freshness and quality.

Bacon that is past the sell-by date may begin developing signs of spoilage like sour smell, slimy texture, or discoloration. The sell-by date doesn’t necessarily mean the bacon is unsafe to eat after that date, but its quality starts diminishing.

Look for Changes in Color

When fresh, bacon has a light pink, fleshy color. As it starts to spoil, the color fades and becomes more grey. Bad bacon may be white or greenish.

These color changes indicate bacteria are breaking down proteins and fats in the pork. While a little fading may be normal, bacon that looks dulled, grey or greenish should be discarded.

Check the Texture

The texture of fresh bacon is firm and a bit flexible. Spoiled bacon becomes slimy and sticky.

This stickiness comes from bacteria that produce slime as they multiply. The slime causes the bacon slices to stick together and makes the meat appear glossy. Bacon developing these textural changes is most likely spoiled.

Give it a Sniff

Your nose is a great tool for detecting bad bacon. Fresh bacon has a mild, meaty smell.

As it starts to spoil, the smell becomes sour, unpleasant, and stronger. Rotten or bad bacon gives off an unmistakable rancid odor.

If you notice an off-putting smell when you open up the package, the bacon has likely gone bad and should be thrown away.

Look for Mold

In addition to odor and texture changes, spoiled bacon may develop mold growth. This looks like fuzzy spots or cotton-like webbing.

Any mold signals that bacteria have reproduced and could produce toxins. Bacon with mold on it should always be discarded, even if it’s just in one area.

Check for Sliminess

Fresh bacon has a moist, glossy appearance when raw but isn’t slippery. Bacon that feels slimy or releases water is spoiled.

The slime is caused by bacteria breaking down fats into fatty acids. If you notice any slime on raw bacon, it should be thrown out.

How to Store Bacon Properly

Storing bacon properly helps it stay fresh longer and reduces spoilage. Here are some bacon storage tips:

  • Keep unopened bacon in the refrigerator 1 week past the sell-by date.
  • Once opened, rewrap bacon tightly and use within 1 week.
  • Store bacon in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not the door.
  • Keep bacon in its original packaging if possible.
  • You can also wrap opened bacon tightly in plastic wrap or foil.
  • Make sure bacon is sealed airtight so it doesn’t absorb odors.
  • Raw bacon can be frozen for 1-2 months for longer storage.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Bacon?

Eating spoiled bacon can cause food poisoning. The main risks are:

  • Salmonella – Bacteria that causes diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
  • Listeria – Bacteria that causes fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • E. coli – Bacteria that causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Staphylococcus aureus – Bacteria that causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Symptoms of food poisoning tend to develop within hours after eating contaminated bacon. In severe cases, bad bacon can cause hospitalization.

At-risk groups like pregnant women, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems are more likely to experience severe effects. So it’s especially important for them to avoid spoiled bacon.

How to Cook Bacon Safely

Proper cooking can kill any bacteria present in bacon. Here are some tips for safe bacon cooking:

  • Cook until crispy and golden brown.
  • Fry or bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  • Drain and blot fat from cooked bacon with paper towels.
  • Don’t reuse bacon fat more than once due to bacteria risk.
  • Cook bacon thoroughly. Partially cooked bacon can still harbor bacteria.
  • Serve cooked bacon immediately or refrigerate within 2 hours.

Can You Eat Bacon Raw?

Raw bacon may contain Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other bacteria. The CDC recommends cooking pork to an internal temperature of 145°F and letting rest for 3 minutes before eating.

You may see videos online of people trying raw bacon as part of viral challenges. However, eating raw bacon is very risky due to the bacteria it can contain and potentially cause food poisoning.

Signs Bacon Has Gone Bad

Here is a quick summary of the signs that indicate your bacon has spoiled and should be thrown out:

  • Grey, green or white color
  • Slimy or sticky texture
  • Sour, rancid smell
  • Mold growth
  • Weird discharge or oozing liquid

When in doubt, remember the saying “When in doubt, throw it out.” It’s better to be safe and discard bacon that shows any questionable signs.

Can You Freeze Bacon Grease?

Yes, bacon grease can be frozen for later use. Here are some tips:

  • Let hot bacon grease cool slightly so it’s warm, not simmering hot.
  • Strain out any bacon bits using a sieve.
  • Pour grease into a freezer-safe container, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  • Let it solidify at room temperature before freezing.
  • For longer storage, cover grease with plastic wrap before sealing container.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Freezing prevents bacon grease from going rancid quickly. However, reuse bacon fat no more than 1-2 times due to potential bacteria growth.

What Is the Best Way to Microwave Bacon?

Microwaving is a quick way to cook bacon, though it may not get as crispy as frying. Here are some microwave bacon tips:

  • Place bacon slices between paper towels on a microwave-safe plate.
  • Cover bacon with another paper towel to prevent splattering.
  • Cook on high in 30 second increments until bacon is crispy.
  • Drain on more paper towels.
  • Take precautions as bacon strips and grease will be extremely hot.

Adjust cook times based on your microwave wattage and amount of bacon. Watch it closely near the end to avoid overcooking.

Can You Eat Bacon Raw?

Raw bacon can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, Staphylococcus, and E. coli. Cooking commercial bacon to 145°F kills these organisms and makes the bacon safe to eat.

Consuming raw or undercooked bacon increases your risk of food poisoning. It’s especially dangerous for pregnant women, children, older adults and those with compromised immune systems.

Raw bacon challenges may seem fun but come with real health hazards. For food safety, it’s critical to cook bacon thoroughly until crispy before eating.

How Long Can Bacon Sit Out?

Bacon should not sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Leaving cooked or uncooked bacon out for longer than this can allow bacteria to multiply quickly.

Here are some general food safety guidelines for bacon:

  • Store uncooked bacon for no more than 1-2 weeks in the fridge.
  • Discard uncooked bacon left out overnight.
  • Cook or freeze raw bacon within 1 week of opening package.
  • Serve cooked bacon immediately, within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container.
  • Use cooked bacon within 3-4 days.
  • When reheating, cook until steaming hot.

Following these time limits and proper storage helps prevent foodborne illnesses from eating bacon that has sat out too long.

Can You Refreeze Bacon?

Previously frozen raw bacon can be safely refrozen, though the texture may become less fresh. Take these steps when refreezing bacon:

  • Make sure bacon was thawed in the fridge, not left out.
  • Inspect for any signs of spoilage like stickiness or sliminess.
  • Rewrap bacon securely in its original packaging.
  • Freeze for up to 1 month past the original sell-by date.
  • Only refreeze bacon once.

Refreezing cooked bacon is riskier since the reheating process can increase bacteria growth. It’s best to cook the amount of bacon you’ll use right away.

How to Store Cooked Bacon

Cooked bacon needs proper storage to avoid bacterial growth. Here are some tips for storing cooked bacon:

  • Let cool slightly, then refrigerate within 2 hours.
  • Store in a sealed container to prevent odor absorption.
  • Use refrigerated cooked bacon within 3-4 days.
  • For longer storage, wrap tightly in foil and freeze.
  • Freeze cooked bacon for up to 1 month.
  • Thaw frozen bacon in the fridge before using.
  • Reheat to 165°F until hot and steaming before eating.

With the right storage methods, cooked bacon can be enjoyed for several days. Be sure to heat it thoroughly before serving.

How Long Does Bacon Last When Frozen?

Frozen uncooked bacon maintains optimal quality for up to 1-2 months past the sell-by date. For cooked bacon, maximum freezer storage time is 1 month.

Follow these guidelines for frozen bacon storage:

  • Freeze uncooked bacon for no more than 2 months.
  • Freeze cooked bacon for no more than 1 month.
  • Use freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Store bacon in the coldest part of the freezer, 0°F or below.
  • Avoid freezer burn by wrapping bacon tightly.
  • Label packages with date and contents.

Freezing prevents bacterial growth and slows the loss of quality. With proper storage, frozen bacon can stay fresh for everyday cooking and baking needs.

Can You Cook Bacon from Frozen?

Yes, you can safely cook frozen bacon straight from the freezer without thawing first. However, cooking times may be 15-20 minutes longer.

Tips for cooking frozen bacon:

  • Place frozen strips in cold pan – don’t preheat.
  • Cook over medium-low, turning occasionally.
  • Pour off grease as it accumulates.
  • Cook until bacon reaches desired crispness.
  • Drain on paper towels.

Cooking bacon directly from frozen results in tender texture and uniform color. Just be sure to cook it fully until sizzling and browned.


Checking for changes in color, smell, texture and mold growth can help determine if bacon has gone bad. Properly storing, handling and cooking bacon reduces the risk of foodborne illness.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Watch for grey, green or white discoloration.
  • Bacon should not have a sour, rancid odor.
  • Discard bacon with a sticky, slimy texture.
  • Cook until crispy and drain fat for food safety.
  • Store opened packages tightly wrapped in fridge.
  • Freeze for longer storage to maintain freshness.

Being vigilant about signs of spoilage and using safe storage methods can help you get the most out of bacon and keep your food fresh.

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