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How to Tell When Lunch Meats Are Bad

Sure Signs Your Deli Meat Has Gone Bad

The other day, a friend dragged me to the kitchen and asked me to inspect her sliced deli turkey. It had been sitting in the fridge for more than a couple of days, and she wasn't sure if the turkey was still edible or not. I explained that there are several ways to tell when cold cuts have gone bad:

  • Start by looking at the sell-by date. All lunch meats (whether they are prepackaged or fresh cut from the deli) have a sell-by date. It's best to consume the meat within seven to 10 days after the sell-by date.
  • Generally speaking, once it's been opened, eat within three to five days.
  • If the meat is extremely slimy with a film on the outside, throw it away.
  • Any odd or off smells of vinegar, ammonia, or yeast mean it's time to throw out the turkey, pastrami, or ham.
  • This goes without saying, but if there's any mold or growths on the meat or package, dispose of it immediately.
Image Source: Shutterstock
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Spectra Spectra 7 years
Definitely toss it if it's at all slimey or has a weird smell to it. My parents buy sliced deli meat all the time and my dad has eaten bad meat more times than one. Generally, you should only buy as much meat as you can eat in 3 days or so...don't go buying a pound of turkey if you're not going to eat it all in 3 days or you will have slimey gross meat that you'll have to throw out. Also, deli meats can harbor Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which most people can fight off easily, but if you're pregnant or immunocompromised, you're best off not eating deli meats at all unless you heat them up to 140 degrees.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Definitely toss it if it's at all slimey or has a weird smell to it. My parents buy sliced deli meat all the time and my dad has eaten bad meat more times than one. Generally, you should only buy as much meat as you can eat in 3 days or so...don't go buying a pound of turkey if you're not going to eat it all in 3 days or you will have slimey gross meat that you'll have to throw out. Also, deli meats can harbor Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, which most people can fight off easily, but if you're pregnant or immunocompromised, you're best off not eating deli meats at all unless you heat them up to 140 degrees.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Oh lord the slime has got me before...
mom2ross mom2ross 7 years
This is an article? Really?!
Marci Marci 7 years
That slimey look is a dead giveaway. There's also that funny odor.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I don't think lunch meat is gross! I just always make sure to eat it within about 4 days of buying it.
ckeller825 ckeller825 7 years
omg that is making me SICK just thinking about it!
weffie weffie 7 years
skigurl, my thoughts exactly! it's always bad!
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 7 years
These are great tips! Thanks.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
that picture is making me feel sick i refuse to read this how about DON'T EAT LUNCH MEAT. it's totally gross.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
that picture is making me feel sicki refuse to read thishow about DON'T EAT LUNCH MEAT.it's totally gross.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
Yes, I have felt that slimy sheen on old deli turkey. Ick.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
I had bad lunch meat once from Subway. It was roast beef. The roast beef had a strange sheen to it... I shouldn't have eaten it, but I was hungry. Yeah. I was sick for a day after that. When in doubt, throw it out.
starangel82 starangel82 7 years
I had bad lunch meat once from Subway. It was roast beef. The roast beef had a strange sheen to it... I shouldn't have eaten it, but I was hungry. Yeah. I was sick for a day after that.When in doubt, throw it out.
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