How To Tell If Pork Is Bad (5 Signs to Look For!)

Pork is well-loved because it is merely delicious. Why is pork so well-liked? The answer is that it’s fantastic, regardless of how it’s treated, cured, or cooked, and it’s excellent as ham, pork ribs, pork chops, sausages of all types, and bacon. However, as with most spoilt things, all those thoughts of yumminess go out the window when pork goes bad. So, how can do you know if pork has gone bad?

pork loin on a wooden cutting board

Generally, when pork begins to go bad, it emits a sour stench that deepens and intensifies over time. Raw pork will also change color and feel slimy to the touch. Cooked pork left in a warm area overnight will not show any signs of having gone bad but will most likely make you sick when consumed.

Many cuts of a pig are as lean as and sometimes even leaner than chicken, and they include more vitamins and minerals than poultry. For instance, skinless chicken breast and pork tenderloin are both equally lean types of meat. If you regularly consume pork, your senses, like taste, smell, and eyesight, will accurately alert you if the pork has gone bad.

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How To Tell If Pork Is Bad

One of the most obvious ways you can tell pork has gone bad is when you feel sick soon after consuming it. However, the goal is to recognize some common signs of bad pork before it gets to that. There shouldn’t be much to smell to fresh pork. Pork should be thrown away if it has any sour, weird, or ammonia-like odors.

Vacuum-packed pork deviates from this rule. Although it has a slight odor, it should go away when the meat is rinsed under cold water. Interestingly enough, there are several ways one can tell when pork has gone bad when it is raw, frozen, cooked and left out, cooked and refrigerated, and cooked and frozen.

Sign #1: Raw Pork Changes Color

When it comes to uncooked pork, there will be several indications that it is no longer fit for consumption. You will notice the pork changing from the well-known pinkish color to grey and, even worse, a greenish tint.

Sign #2: Raw Pork Has Slimy Texture

When you touch the pork, the surface’s texture will have slime or be sticky. The feel of the slimy texture is somewhat similar to that of the slime of snails.

Sign #3: Raw Pork Has An Ammonia-Like Smell

Another screaming indication that pork has gone bad is when the odor changes from the typical meat smell to sour and then downright objectionable.

These are the consequences of spoilage microorganisms, which are difficult to overlook. Bacterial and parasite diseases are still present, but spoiling organisms multiply quickly, even if the meat is at refrigerator temperatures.

Check for strange smells on other meat products too, like ground turkey or chicken broth.

Sign #4: Cooked Pork Will Have A Sour Odor

Unlike raw pork, where you can immediately tell that something is off from the get-go, it’s a little more complicated if you look at thoroughly cooked pork. How it was cooked does not necessarily matter. Suppose you did not notice that the pork you cooked was already well on its way to being bad. In that case, the signs are different.

Although the general thought process is that cooked meat is free of organisms that can spoil it, that isn’t the case. Other rotting organisms will survive cooking temperatures; others will be introduced by handling since cooking.

What you can do to confirm whether or not cooked pork is bad is to smell it. Cooked pork will often not have the same immediate physical changes. However, you can expect there to be a specific odor. If there is a sour odor, then your pork has gone bad.

Note that it may be harder to detect a bad smell in stronger, flavored pork sausage, so be extra careful with this kind of pork!

Sign #5: Unrefrigerated Pork Will Make You Sick When Eaten

Apart from being able to tell how cooked pork is bad when it was rotten before being cooked, you will also need to be able to tell if pork that was good and has been cooked is still good. That is, if it is left unrefrigerated.

If the pork has been subjected to temperature mistreatment after cooking, for example, after cooking the pork, you forget to place it in the fridge and simply leave it in the pot in a kitchen that is warm overnight. There may be no noticeable alterations.

You might not notice anything different for some time when pathogenic organisms, which are disease-producing, increase as opposed to rotting organisms. Salmonella could be there to cause illness well before changes become apparent.

Furthermore, specific pathogens like Trichinella should be eliminated during cooking. Unfortunately, sometimes people are in a hurry or simply unaware of how long certain meat needs to be cooked. Therefore, the time taken to cook the pork could have been insufficient.

Related: how to tell if broccoli is bad

More Questions About What Makes Pork Go Bad

What makes pork go bad?

Pigs are better for the environment since they emit far fewer greenhouse gases. Compared to a variety of meats and poultry, pork performs well in terms of fat, cholesterol, and calories. However, even with all those benefits, it still isn’t immune to going bad. So, what makes pork go bad?

Essentially, bacteria make pork go bad. Bacteria tend to grow exponentially in any meat that is in the danger zone temperature-wise. This would be 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that bacteria do not have a chance to take residence on your pork, ensure that it is kept cold. That way, it will not go bad.

Can you cook pork even when it has gone bad?

Yes, you can choose to cook pork once it has gone bad, but the question is, is it safe? Some people think they can still cook or even recook spoiled pork. The answer is that the damage has already been done as there is a bunch of bacteria.

When the pork smells bad, it’s time to throw it out. If you attempt to cook spoiled pork, it will only intensify the foul flavor and odor. To evaluate whether something is safe to consume, use your sense of smell, which evolution has refined over many millennia. If it smells nasty, it probably is.

Remember to check the use-by or sell-by dates at all times. Prior to purchasing or preparing pork, verify the package date. Prepare or freeze pork by its use-by date if one is listed. Cook or freeze pork loin, ribs, steaks, or chops within 3-5 days of purchase if no sell-by date is specified. Pork that has passed its use-by or sell-by date should not be consumed unless it had been properly frozen prior to that time.

How does bad pork apply to frozen pork?

Suppose you have pork sitting in the freezer for several months and even years. Whether your pork is rotten will primarily rely on how it was before it was frozen. Bacterial growth is significantly slowed but not entirely stopped by freezing.

Generally, you can eat it if it wasn’t significantly infected before freezing. However, don’t eat anything that tastes or smells terrible. The taste and texture of the meat undoubtedly deteriorate, and the meat’s quality also does.

As mentioned above, bad pork can be easy to see. So the signs will be noticeable when it defrosts or is finished cooking. The best thing to do for raw meat is to use your nose to see if there are any unusual smells. You’ll want to also use your eyes to check out any color changes, and lastly, touch the pork to ensure that there is no slimy texture.


There are so many different cuts of pork to enjoy at home – pork chops, loin, ribs, etc.! But sometimes you get a bad apple, or maybe you let your pork sit in the fridge too long. Make sure to examine the smell & appearance before cooking the pork to ensure you don’t get sick from it!

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