How To Tell If Pork Is Bad: Find Out Shelf Life of Pork Cuts & More on Food Safety

It can be hard to know when pork meat is cooked or not, especially if you are used to beef. You can tell the doneness of beef simply by its color, but this isn’t the case for pork. You’ll need to take into account the length of cooking time and the temperature levels when checking pork meat.


This basic knowledge would be essential when you’re trying to be proficient in telling if pork is good or bad. Learn how to tell if pork is bad by reading on below.

1. Smell the Pork

First off, there’s some sort of automatic reflex when we are in doubt about a particular food’s safety, we smell it. It probably stems from an ancient thing that our forefathers had to rely on to tell if food is still good or has gone bad.

Coincidentally, it remains one of the best and simplest ways to tell if food - particularly, fresh meat - is good or not. The rule is: if it smells funky or sour, it’s gone bad. Even if you cook that piece of bad meat, it will still have a sour taste and smell after. In fact, that sourness might even intensify.

In some cases, odor might be contained if the meat is vacuum packed, as is the case for processed meats bought from the supermarket. Make sure to rinse the pork before checking for smells. This will remove the liquid that has encapsulated the meat, which can give a false acidic scent.

2. Look at the Pork

Without tools, we can tell the safety of meat using our senses. Obviously, smell is the first one, as mentioned earlier. Next, use your eyes. The appearance of fresh pork is always going to be gray. However, cooking will change the color of the meat. On the outside, the meat will keep this grayness, and the inside of the meat will become pink.

Don’t mistake pork for beef, which can be safely eaten rare and pink. Pork must always be prepared thoroughly and eaten only if well-cooked.

If you have taken a cut of pork out of the fridge to thaw before cooking, or if you have taken home a fresh slice from the butcher or market, make sure to check for any unpleasant smells or sourness before cooking.

3. Feel the Pork

Next, use your sense of touch. That’s right. Touch the meat and check if it is slimy. Pork should be naturally moist, but sliminess is a sign that it has gone bad.

If you’re having sausages, make sure that their casing is cool and dry to your touch. Sausages have gone bad if the casing is unnecessarily soggy and wet, and if the odor is sour.

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Proper Storage and Cooking of Pork

There is such a thing as “shelf life” for food items, and while it isn’t the best way to decide on the safety of meat products, it can still be useful information. Here are the shelf life standards for different cuts of pork.

1. Pork Loin

  • Fresh pork loin should be stored at 40°F inside the fridge. Make sure to use it within 3-5 days.
  • Make sure you store fresh pork loin in freezer bags to prevent it from being exposed to different smells and flavors in the refrigerator, which might give a false smell when you are checking it later on.
  • Thaw frozen pork loin in the fridge, still in a plastic bag. After thawing, use it by 3-5 days.
  • Cook pork loin at 145-155°F. This is the ideal temperature for killing all bacteria and parasites that might reside and hide inside the meat.

2. Pork Chops

  • Pork chops look grayish pink if you’re buying them at the supermarket. Butchers will gladly check them before wrapping them for you. Don’t be shy from checking for smell and color before buying.
  • Store fresh pork chops in the fridge at 40°F. Use them within 3-5 days.
  • Thaw frozen pork chops in the fridge. Cook immediately after thawing. Do not let them reach room temperature before using. Thawed chops stay safe and can be refrozen as long as they don’t go higher than 40°F.
  • Cook pork chops at 145-155°F. They are quicker to cook compared to loins, so be sure to monitor them closely or they might burn or dry out.
  • For a healthier way of cooking, you may slice away the extra fat on the chops before cooking.
  • Make sure to use separate chopping boards and knives for meat and vegetables.
  • Hot dishwashers are the way to go when making sure that all bacteria from meat and food are eliminated when washing. It is also recommended to stay away from wooden kitchen utensils, such as bamboo, which might serve as breeding places for meat bacteria.

3. Pork Sausages

  • Because sausages are processed with different spices, the odor will not be the best way to tell if it’s fresh or not. Instead, check the casing. It must be dry and cool. Any signs of sourness and sliminess will indicate it’s gone bad.
  • Store sausages at 40°F, unless they have been smoked.
  • Freeze them until you are ready to cook them. Thaw them in the fridge. Refreezing and rethawing is not advised, because this can change the overall flavor and worse, cause bacterial growth.
  • Cook sausages - and all ground pork - at 160°F. Sausages can be tough to measure temperature on while cooking, as poking them with a thermometer might break them up. Instead, see if the sausages are becoming crispy and browned. These are signs that they are cooked. While cooking, check for sourness. You should get no sniffs of unpleasant odors.


Pork is a pretty great meat, and can be the hero in many culinary marvels. Learning how to tell if pork is bad can be quite easy. Simply rely on your senses: touch, sight, and smell.

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