Food Safety Issues/refridgerated stew meat


I purchased 2 packages of stew meat from the grocery store approx 1 week ago. One package has a "Use or freeze by" date of 1/27/13 and the other package has a date of 1/28/13.. Do you think either of these are still good enough to cook today? The package dated 1/28/13 has turned brown on the outside & the other package has started to brown.. Just FYI, I was obviously going to use the meat to make stew, in a crockpot..

Hi Loretta,

Since I am answering this question 1 day after your asking, I'm curious as to whether you used the meat in a stew in your crockpot?  

While a brown color of meat is an indication that the meat is older, it does not always signal the spoilage of the meat. Did you notice any off smells or a slimy texture to the meat?  If so, this is a sign of food spoilage -- Mother Nature's way of telling you to not eat the meat.  While food spoilage organisms that cause off flavors, texture and color are not in themselves harmful to consume, they can be hiding other bacteria that don't give off signals that they are present and can make you very ill.  In addition, some of these invisible bacteria can produce a toxic waste product while growing that is not deactivated by cooking.  In other words, cooking a meat or food that is past it's "used by" date is not a guarantee that it is still safe to consume.  And, using your senses is not always an accurate indicator as to the safety of the "expired" food product.

So what I'm trying to say is that you are taking a much bigger chance with your safety when you cook and consume food products past their stated "best by" dates.  While it is entirely possible that your older meat is still perfectly safe, the chances for food borne illness goes up with each day past the date recommendation.

Here's hope that if you did decided to cook the meat yesterday that everything turned out well.  


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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