It’s easy to buy groceries and then forget about them once they’re in the fridge. The trouble is, some items are more perishable than others. If you’ve left uncooked steak in fridge for 7 days, is it too late to salvage it? Let’s take a look.
Uncooked Steak in Fridge for 7 Days
As a rule, steak should keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keeping it around for 7 days would be pushing it, since meat tends to deteriorate in quality after the 5-day mark. If you notice any signs of spoilage—such as an offensive odor, slimy texture, or discoloration—discard the steak immediately.
How Long Does Steak Keep in the Fridge?
If you’re wondering whether you can eat steak that’s been hanging around for 7 days, you’d probably like to know just how long the meat will stay fresh in the refrigerator. According to the USDA, you should have a window of 3 to 5 days after purchase.
Although the steak won’t necessarily go bad as soon as it hits the 5-day mark, there’s a good chance that it hasn’t retained its best qualities either. For best results, try to cook off steak within 3 days of bringing it home.
About Sell-By Dates
Some people will automatically toss food in the trash when the “sell-by” or “use-by” date has passed. While it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food storage, some further inspection might be in order.
Those dates on the packaging are there to remind the retailer how long the meat has been around. They’re supposed to remove it from the shelves when it reaches the “sell-by” date. Again, though, that doesn’t always mean the meat is unsafe to consume.
It’s better to rely on your own senses than on numbers printed on a package. Use our guidelines (listed below in How To Tell if Steak Has Gone Bad) to help you determine whether you can salvage the meat or not.
Uncooked Steak in Fridge for 7 Days
Most of the time, a piece of steak that’s been in the fridge for 7 days will no longer be fresh. Our baseline recommendation would be to discard the meat, rather than take a chance.
That said, you should be able to tell if the steak is still relatively fresh. If you purchased it from a reputable butcher—especially one that gets their meat from a local source—there’s a chance that it could still be okay.
Check the meat carefully to see if it’s showing signs of spoilage. If it exhibits even one of them, then toss it out. Otherwise, go ahead and cook it off—as long as you plan on eating it right away.
What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Steak?
When you keep a perishable product like raw steak around long enough, hazardous bacteria begin to take up residence there. These include—but are not limited to—E. coli, staphylococcus, and salmonella.
If you consume steak—or any food—that contains these bacteria, it could cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The illness usually presents itself within a few days and can last for up to 4 days.
Clearly, this is something you’ll want to avoid. That’s why it’s so important to familiarize yourself with the warning signs that we’ll get into in the next section.
How To Tell if Steak Has Gone Bad
There are several ways to tell if steak has outlasted its freshness. In fact, you can follow similar guidelines for just about any type of meat.
Check the Dates
First of all, you can check the use-by date on the package. As we discussed, this isn’t always a reliable indicator of quality. But if the date is long past—say, a week or more—then you should assume that the meat is no longer fresh.
Do a Smell Test
When you open a package of fresh meat, you shouldn’t notice much of a scent at all. Once the meat has gone bad, however, you’re bound to notice immediately.
Spoiled steak has a strong, unpleasant odor reminiscent of rotten eggs. It might also smell sour, or overly sweet. In essence, if the steak has a noticeable scent, then you’re better off throwing it away.
Check the Color
If the steak is only a few days past the use-by date and it smells okay, take a close look at it. Is the meat still red in color, or has it turned grayish-brown? A few brown spots might be nothing to worry about, but uniform discoloration is a red flag.
Similarly, if there are patches of mold on the surface, the steak isn’t salvageable. Look for the telltale spots of white, green, blue, or yellow. If you notice any, don’t try to cut them away—just discard the entire steak.
Test the Texture
Fresh meat feels slightly damp to the touch, but not overly wet. If it’s slimy, sticky, or tacky, that means bacteria have begun to set up camp. You should also be wary if it feels soggy, rather than springy, when you press down on the surface.
Can You Still Cook the Steak if it’s Gone Bad?
You shouldn’t cook steak if you suspect it’s gone bad. Some folks believe that the heat will destroy the harmful bacteria, but sadly, that’s not the case.
A Guide to Freezing Steak
Let’s say you purchased the steak thinking you’d cook it off right away, but your plans changed. Now you won’t get another chance to cook it for a week. Since there’s a good chance it won’t last that long in the fridge, we would suggest freezing it instead.
It’s a good idea to freeze meat as soon as you know you won’t be using it right away. The fresher the meat is when you put it in the freezer, the longer it will keep after thawing.
Try to remove steak from its original packaging before you freeze it. Wrap it in a layer of freezer paper or plastic wrap, then add a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. This will reduce the risk of freezer burn.
Label the package with the contents and the date, so you’ll know how long it’s been in there. A steak will keep indefinitely when stored at subzero temperatures, but it might dry out if you leave it in the freezer for longer than a few months.
Thaw the steak on the bottom shelf of your fridge the day before you plan to cook it. The meat should be thoroughly defrosted and ready for seasoning by the time you fire up the grill.
After the steak is thawed in the fridge, it should keep for 2 to 3 days, depending on how fresh it was when you added it to the freezer. Note that if you’ve thawed the steak in cold water or the microwave, you’ll have to cook it right away.
The Bottom Line
Though steak that’s been in the fridge for 7 days might still be safe to eat, there’s a better-than-average chance that it won’t be. Our advice would be to freeze the meat after a couple of days if you know you won’t have time to cook it within a week.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!