If Meat Turns Brown in the Fridge, Is It Bad?

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Have you previously kept a lot of meat in your fridge, planning to enjoy it later, and are suddenly seeing it turning brown? Well, considering that meat isn’t a cheap food option, this might be something that could have freaked you out. 

When it comes to meat turning brown, numerous people think it’s a sign that the meat has gone bad and it’s not a good idea to consume now. This isn’t surprising, considering that no one likes their food turning brown. 

But one thing you need to check out before disposing of the meat, which is also what got you here, is to seek an answer to the question, i.e., if the meat that turns brown in the fridge is bad. 

Well, unlike what most people usually think, the color of the meat has nothing to do with its freshness. If you keep your meat in the fridge for an extended time, it’s normal for it to turn brown. This actually happens because of oxidation of the meat, which brings about changes in its myoglobin content. 

I have compiled a detailed guide for you explaining the phenomenon of the meat in your fridge turning brown. I will also provide you with some effective storage methods you can try to prevent the meat in your refrigerator from going brown if this is something that really bothers you. 

Lastly, I will answer some questions you might have regarding meat and what its different colors indicate. So, keep reading this write-up to the end to explore all these exciting things about meat lying around your refrigerator. 


Is Brown Meat Not Good To Eat?

Coming towards your main concern regarding meat, i.e., is brown meat safe to eat? Well, as I mentioned above, color alone isn’t enough to tell you whether the meat is fresh. You need to watch out for many other things when determining whether the meat in your fridge is safe to eat. 

As far as the meat in your fridge turning brown is concerned, this doesn’t necessarily mean the meat isn’t safe to consume anymore. In fact, this generally happens due to the oxidation of the meat, i.e., the meat has been overexposed to oxygen. 

One thing that I would recommend you here is to skip the brown meat if you are buying it from a store. It’s because, though the browning of meat isn’t a sign of the meat going bad, it certainly is a sign that the process of the rotting of the meat has begun. So, it’s best to go for meat that doesn’t only appear and feel good but smells fresh too. 


For How Long Does Meat Stay Good After Turning Brown? 

Now that you know that the phenomenon of your meat turning brown has nothing to do with it going bad, let me give you a little understanding of how long it would take for the meat to go bad once it turns brown. 

As I mentioned earlier, if possible, it’s best to avoid buying brown meat as it indicates that your meat has entered the phase where it will eventually rot. As far as the time is concerned, once the meat turns brown, its texture and odor will tell you when it’s spoiled. 

To ensure that you are not consuming rotten meat, keep an eye out for its texture, and if it seems slimy and sticky, it’s best to discard it. 


How Does the Phenomenon of Meat Turning Brown Work? What’s the Chemistry Behind That? 

Let me now give you a detailed overview of what’s the chemistry behind the browning phenomenon of meat and how oxygen plays a role in changing the color of meat in your fridge. 

One of the most important protein parts of the meat is myoglobin. It is concerned with storing oxygen in the meat. This works exactly like hemoglobin in the human body. 

Being a protein associated with oxygen status, myoglobin is responsible for changing the color of the meat depending on the availability of oxygen in the environment. 

For instance, if the meat isn’t exposed to oxygen, the myoglobin protein, in this case, will be called deoxymyoglobin, making the meat go purple. Usually, when an animal is slaughtered, the meat is purplish in color. 

On the contrary, when the meat is exposed to an environment with higher oxygen content, the myoglobin protein is called oxymyoglobin, making the meat appear bright red. 

When the environment has a limited supply of oxygen, however, the iron atom gives up an electron resulting in the oxidization of the meat, which makes the meat turn brown, and the myoglobin protein, in this case, is called metmyoglobin. 

This is how the browning of meat and other fruits and vegetables containing myoglobin works. 


Methods to Store Meat 

If you are still worried about the storage life of the meat you have just spent your money on and want to learn about some effective storage methods you can use to add to the storage time of the meat, I have your back. 

Here are 2 storage methods you can use to keep the meat fresh and good for a long time. 

Method #1: Freezing the Meat 

This is one of the most common methods of preserving meat and is used in most households. Freezing the meat can keep it fresh for up to 3 to 4 months. 

Here is what you need to do to freeze the meat properly: 

  1. Start by cutting large pieces of meat into small chunks. 
  2. It’s best to make 3 to 4 separate packets of meat as storing them separately keeps them good for a long time rather than storing all the meat together. 
  3. Once you are done with dividing the meat into 3 to 4 parts, put all these parts of meat in separate zip-lock bags. 
  4. Ensure to remove any air bubbles inside the plastic zip-lock bags before closing them. 
  5. Free up space in the freezer and adjust its temperature to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  6. Keep the meat packets in the coldest portion of the freezer. 
  7. When you need to cook meat, take out a packet, thaw it properly, and use it. 


Method #2: Using Salt 

Another method you can use to preserve meat for a long time is using salt on it before storing it. Here are the steps you need to follow to preserve the extra meat you have bought using salt: 

  1. Get some sort of curing salt from the market. 
  2. Cut the meat into equal-sized pieces. 
  3. Cover all the meat pieces with curing salt from all sides. 
  4. Now put the salt-covered meat pieces in an air-tight storage jar. 
  5. Place the jars in a cool place at your home where the temperature is between 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to keep them in the refrigerator. 
  6. Your meat pieces are all set to stay good for the next 3 to 4 days. 
  7. Ensure to rinse off all the excess salt from the meat piece before cooking it. 

Note: Dehydrating is another method you can use to store or preserve the meat successfully. However, considering that it takes too much time and isn’t always recommended if you plan to consume the meat you bought within the following month, I have not included it in my list. 

But if you are interested in how dehydrating the meat works, you can check out this YouTube guide:




How To Tell If Meat Has Gone Bad? 

Spoiled or rotten meat gives off a particularly pungent, pretty dominating smell. You will also notice a bit of stickiness and sliminess in the meat’s texture when it goes bad. Similarly, the color of the meat also starts changing, i.e., it starts getting discolored when it goes bad. So, it’s best to dispose of the meat whenever you notice all these symptoms or at least one of them. 

How Long Can Raw Meat Last In the Fridge? 

Raw meat can stay good for around 3 to 5 days when refrigerated. On the other hand, freezing the raw meat can keep it good for about three to four months, but this time varies depending on how you have stored the meat and how old it is. 

Is Cooking and Eating Spoiled Meat Safe? 

Although cooking the meat removes harmful bacteria, mold, and other fatal chemicals from it, it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s loaded with harmful toxins that aren’t safe and healthy for you. 

What Should Be Done After You Eat Spoiled Meat? 

If you ever consume spoiled meat accidentally, it’s recommended to rest as much as you can and drink fluids to prevent dehydration. Even if you don’t feel like it, keep sipping on water or any fluid to keep yourself hydrated. Though it’s fine to eat if you feel hungry, it’s best to go for lighter meals and snacks for some time, if possible. 


Conclusion – If Meat Turns Brown in the Fridge, Is It Bad? 

In this guide, I have provided you with a detailed answer about the browning of meat and how this entire phenomenon works. I also took you through some storage methods you can use to keep the meat fresh and good for as long as possible. 

In the end, I tried to answer some questions you might have regarding the storage life of meat and how eating spoiled meat is harmful to your health. Hopefully, this guide has made it easier for you to understand the discoloration and browning phenomenon of meat, and the next time you see brown spots on the meat, you will know what to do. 



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