How to Tell if Pork Sausage Is Bad (Explained!)

You can never be too careful when eating meat that isn’t fresh. This is especially crucial with sausages that are fresh and not cured.

If you aren’t sure if your pork sausages are fit for consumption, there are a couple of ways you can check to avoid potential food poisoning.

  1. Smell: Fresh sausages have a mild, herby aroma. Sour or putrid smells signal spoilage.
  2. Appearance & Texture:
    • Fresh sausages are firm and uniformly colored.
    • Spoiled ones may be slimy, grayish, or spotty.
  3. Expiration: Always heed the ‘best by’ labels. Bacteria like E. coli can contaminate without visible signs.
  4. Storage:
    • Wrap tightly in butcher paper or plastic.
    • Raw sausages: 1-2 days in the fridge, 1-2 months in the freezer.
    • Cooked sausages: 3-4 days in the fridge, longer in the freezer.
  5. Health Risks: Spoiled sausage can cause stomach aches or severe food poisoning. Poultry sausages can lead to salmonella when bad.
how to tell if pork sausage is bad

How Do I Know if My Pork Sausage Has Gone Bad?

To tell whether you’re dealing with spoiled sausage or not, you should follow a couple of simple steps.

Start by Smelling the Sausages

Regular raw meat, including ground pork, doesn’t have a strong smell. So, if your sausages are still edible, the most noticeable aroma will be that of the herbs which were added to them.

On the other hand, if there is a putrid and pungent odor or sour smell, the sausages have most likely gone bad.

Check the Look and Texture of the Sausages

Fresh sausages are firm and bouncy when poked with a fork.

Moreover, they have a uniform color, without any strange spots. However, it is a good idea to check the edges of the sausages for a grayish discoloration, as it’s a clear sign of a spoiled sausage.

Note that these recommendations can vary, depending on the type of sausage you’re examining. Breakfast sausages, like Jimmy Dean sausage, are pretty different – click here to learn more.

Look Out for Slimy Texture

If a slimy coat has formed on the exterior of the sausages or sausage casing, it could indicate that they have gone bad. The slimy texture can persist even after cooking.

Even though the bacteria that causes the sausages to go mushy is not particularly dangerous, it would be wise to dispose of them.

pile of pink sausage with shiny slimy casing texture

Check the Expiration Date

Sausages can go bad without any apparent signs.

For example, suppose they have been contaminated by bacteria such as E. coli, yersinia, listeria, or salmonella. In that case, there will be no outward manifestation of the spoilage, but they can still make you seriously ill.

These pathogens can be lethal for the very young, elderly, or someone with a compromised immune system.

Therefore, you should always thoroughly examine the ‘best by’ labels.

Tips on Storing Pork Sausage

Proper storage is the critical component for the lengthy preservation of any kind of meat. Here are the most valuable tips on storing your pork sausages.

Wrap Them Properly

Ensure the meat is tightly wrapped in butcher paper or a plastic zipper-lock bag before placing it in your refrigerator or freezer.

Exposure to air and moisture is what causes the sausages to oxidate and go bad, so using an airtight container in addition is recommended.

You can add further wrapping to the original store paper, such as heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrapping, or a freezer bag to maximize the shelf life of your sausages.

Styrofoam packaging is adequate for sausages kept in the refrigerator, but a tighter wrap is optimal if the sausages are placed in the freezer.

In this case, it would be best to remove the Styrofoam packaging and replace it with a compact plastic wrap, making sure to seal it from any air or moisture.

My Recommended Products for Wrapping Sausage for Freezer/Fridge Storage:

Know How Long You’re Storing Them in the Freezer/Fridge

The USDA recommendations regarding storage of sausages state that all sausages, except those that come dried, are biodegradable and should be kept in the freezer or refrigerator.

Uncooked sausage may be kept in the fridge for one to two days, whereas cooked sausage may be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Similarly, the American Meat Association suggests that sausages that will not be used within one to two days should be placed in the freezer as soon as possible to preserve the best meat quality.

If you wish to keep pork sausages in the freezer, note that they will retain the best quality for one to two months, after which they will still be good for up to six months.

packaged sausages frozen


What Happens if You Eat Bad Sausage?

If you eat a bad sausage, a couple of things can happen to you, depending on the level of spoilage. First, people who have issues with their immune system or stomachs can experience more severe symptoms.

In some cases, eating bad sausage can result in a mild stomach ache. This usually occurs if you eat a sausage that has passed its expiration date, but no harmful bacteria have formed in the meat yet.

One of the most common consequences of eating bad sausage is food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and more.

It might even take a couple of days before you experience any symptoms. It’s essential to stay hydrated if this happens.

If the symptoms are more serious, like frequent vomiting and high fever, then you should consult a doctor.

The worst type of sausage to eat when it goes bad is poultry sausage, like chicken or turkey sausage. The reason being that bad poultry sausages can cause salmonella.

man with stomachache

How Long Is Pork Sausage Good for in the Fridge?

All types of sausages can be stored in your refrigerator, and pork sausages are no exception.

If you want to refrigerate raw sausage, then they can last for about two days. However, it’s crucial not to leave uncooked sausage at room temperature for a long time.

In fact, they can be removed from the fridge for only two hours. If pork sausages sit at room temperature for more than two hours, they can go bad and develop harmful bacteria and toxins that can make you sick.

When it comes to cooked pork sausages, they can stay in the fridge for a bit longer; they’ll still be good even after three to four days.

On the other hand, if you decide to store your pork sausages in the freezer, they can last up to six months. This applies to uncooked pork sausages, while cooked sausages can last for much longer.

In Summary

Now you know how to tell if pork sausage is bad and what you can do to prevent this from happening.

You can use these tips for all types of sausage, from Italian sausage, chicken sausage, or even ground breakfast sausage.

There can be obvious signs that indicate spoiled sausage, like the smell, color, and taste.

However, pork sausages can still go bad, even if they look and taste fine. That’s why it’s essential to follow the expiration dates and follow my tips for keeping your fresh sausage from spoiling.

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