Is Brown Steak Bad? If Meat Turns Brown, Does It Mean It’s Bad

The color of steak can usually be anywhere between burgundy and cherry/bright red. It might seem that when this color changes from red to brown, the steak has gone bad. However, this is not necessarily the case.

When the color changes, this is simply due to a change in the chemical reactions that may take place. This does not mean that the steak is no longer safe to consume, only that it has been exposed to oxygen.

Despite this, it is still important to look out for some additional factors that can indicate if the steak is still safe to consume or not. You can go through these factors below while also understanding what exactly makes the color of the steak turn brown.

Why Does the Color of the Steak Turn Brown?

A protein called myoglobin is present in steak, which gives it its color, although this can be a bit purplish or burgundy initially. Usually, if the steak is freshly packed and tightly sealed, you are likely to find this kind of dark color on it.

It is only when myoglobin comes in contact with oxygen that the color starts turning red, which is what you might probably find at the store or market. This is because the air present in the refrigerator of the store can lead to the formation of oxymyoglobin.

This red color can then turn even darker and become brown in color due to the ongoing exposure to air or oxygen. The other conditions present in the store or even in the fridge of your own house can cause the steak to turn brown.

However, apart from this kind of reaction, several other minor but associated factors might lead to the steak turning brown. For instance:

  • If the animal was old, the chances of the meat becoming darker quickly are more likely due to the myoglobin content.
  • If the animal had to carry out physical activities, then the parts of the body that result in the meat are likely to be browner in color.
  • Changes in storage can turn the meat brown.

In addition, meat might have various hues and colors based on which part of the body it came from and what kind of exposure this meat has gone through during its filtering, cleaning and packaging process. Cooking can also make a difference to this.

Related: Can You Eat Raw Steak and Is it Safe?

Other Signs to Tell If Steak Has Gone Bad

Brown steak is not bad in itself, but you should also look for other signs to tell if the steak has gone bad. This can include the following:

  • An accumulation of bacteria can cause the steak to turn bad.
  • Bad or foul smells are a sure sign that the steak is bad.
  • If the texture of the meat seems a bit off or strange, then it might be time to throw it out.

FDA Recommendations

According to the FDA, you can refrigerate steak for up to 5 days or freeze it for 6-12 months. You can refrigerate cooked leftovers for 3 days or freeze them for around 4 months.

Further Reading: Is It Safe to Eat Blue Steak?

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