I’ve been guilty. I’ve kept ground turkey in the fridge for too long multiple times so far. After a few failures, I’ve finally realized that ground turkey has an extremely short shelf life!
I’ve also realized that “ground turkey spoilage” can happen to anyone mainly due to inadequate storage. When that happens, how will you know for sure that it is spoiled?
There are signs that indicate ground turkey has gone bad and you shouldn’t consume it, which we will cover today. Also, you’ll learn how long ground turkey lasts in different storage settings, and how you can make it last longer.
5 Major Signs Ground Turkey Has Gone Bad
If a ground turkey has gone bad, you will notice changes in its color, texture, smell, and flavor. If you notice any of these signs, then you know your ground turkey is spoiled and you should toss it away:
Ground turkey should be light pink or beige in color. After some time, you may notice that your ground turkey’s color has become dull which is entirely normal.
However, if it is brown, yellow, or gray, then it has gone bad and you shouldn’t consume it! If you notice any other signs of spoilage like a change in texture or smell, then this only confirms that your ground turkey is spoiled.
When you store ground turkey at an inadequate temperature or a surface area that has bacteria on it, it will develop a slimy texture. It is one of the biggest signs ground turkey has gone bad.
Besides the slimy texture, a spoiled ground turkey will also be sticky and dry. After touching and feeling its texture, don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly.
When you see mold on your meat, you know it’s one of the telltale signs that ground turkey is bad. This applies to any other food as well.
Inspect your meat before cooking to make sure it isn’t spoiled or going bad. If you see mold, it’s best to discard the ground turkey.
Normally, raw ground turkey doesn’t have any smell. So, if you notice an unpleasant smell, you can be sure that it is spoiled. Pro tip: Pay special attention to the smell if it’s 2 year old frozen meat or you kept it in the freezer for longer than 2 years.
The sour smell of ground turkey is usually a result of improper storage. In order to extend its shelf life, read the tips below.
Let’s say that you missed detecting the signs of spoilage, and you cooked the ground turkey. Don’t forget to pay attention to its flavor once you start eating it.
If the ground turkey’s flavor is unusual, don’t risk continuing to eat it. Discard the meat, so that you avoid the potential food poisoning.
Why Does Ground Turkey Go Bad?
Ground turkey can go bad quickly if it is not stored properly. There are also some other reasons that may cause ground turkey to spoil:
• Exposure to heat: Keeping raw or cooked ground turkey at room temperature for longer than 2 hours will result in food spoilage. (See the table above for the shelf life of different storage settings.)
• Exposure to air: Storing ground turkey with an excessive amount of air will accelerate its spoilage. Make sure to squeeze out any excess air when storing ground turkey. Pro tip: That’s why it’s best to store it in its original packaging.
• Undercooking: Undercooked meat can be contaminated with various harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. choli, and others.
• Freezer burn: Keeping ground turkey inadequately stored in the freezer (read: exposed to cold and dry air) will result in freezer burn. Keeping it in an airtight container is the best bet.
• Incorrect thawing method: Thawing ground turkey in warm water or keeping it too long at room temperature are considered the wrong thawing methods. Instead, you should thaw ground turkey in cold water or in the fridge. Here’s how to thaw a turkey overnight.
• Fat content: Ground turkey contains a lot of fat which makes it easy for bacteria to grow on the surface of the meat and contaminate it through contact with its juices.
How Long Does Ground Turkey Last?
Ground turkey’s shelf life greatly depends on whether it’s raw or cooked, and where it is stored.
According to the USDA, ground turkey and other poultry can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours after which it needs to be refrigerated.
You can keep ground turkey in the refrigerator or in the freezer for a few days or for a couple of months. Let’s see the shelf life of each storing method, as recommended by the USDA’s FoodKeeper App:
How Can You Make Turkey Last Longer?
By following these simple guidelines, you can extend the shelf life of your ground turkey and prevent it from spoiling too soon:
• It is best to store ground turkey in the coldest section of your fridge.
• Ground turkey should be stored in the fridge at a temperature below 40°F.
• To decline bacteria growth, keep the ground turkey in its original packaging.
• Or keep it in an airtight container.
• If you don’t plan on using ground turkey within a day or two, then you should freeze it.
• Thaw your ground turkey in a bowl of cold water or in the fridge. Pro tip: If you don’t have time for thawing, you can also cook frozen ground turkey.
• Write the storage date and the purchase date before freezing it.
What Will Happen If You Eat Spoiled Ground Turkey?
I know it’s not really comforting, but I’ve eaten spoiled ground turkey once and I’ve experienced nausea and stomach problems. However, the symptoms vary from person to person depending on how strong or weak their immune system is.
I know some people who have eaten spoiled ground turkey and nothing happened to them. However, you should NEVER risk eating food that has gone bad, be it ground turkey or something else.
When In Doubt, Throw The Ground Turkey Away!
I’m sure many of us have been in situations where we weren’t sure about whether we should discard ground turkey or continue cooking it. It’s true that our eyes, nose, and taste can sometimes be deceitful.
So, when your senses fail you, rely on your reason and ask yourself the following questions:
Is it better to eat spoiled ground turkey or toss it away so that you avoid potential food poisoning? Is ground turkey worth so much overthinking?
Let the answers to these questions be your guide.