How to Tell if Beef Jerky Is Bad?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering how to tell if beef jerky is terrible. A few tell-tale signs indicate that your jerky may be past its prime. One of the most obvious is a foul smell. If you notice these characteristics, throw the jerky in the trash. It’s hard to tell if beef jerky is terrible, but you can get a good idea by smelling it first.


Beef jerky has no specific expiration date; it may be a couple of days or several months old. Fresh beef jerky will bend when flexed or bent. It should smell pungent, but it’s not a surefire sign that the jerky is terrible. This is the most basic way to determine if your jerky is awful.

What Is Beef Jerky?

Beef jerky is a popular and easy-to-carry snack. “shark” means “dried, salted flesh” in Quechua. Beef jerky is produced from thin beef pieces that have been marinated in a variety of sauces, spices, and other ingredients.

Before being packed for sale, it goes through a series of processing steps, including curing, smoking, and drying. Many worry about whether jerky is a healthy or unhealthy snack because it is considered a snack item. Manganese, molybdenum, and pantothenic acid are also present at modest levels.

Its high protein and low carb content give it a healthier nutritional composition than many other snack foods. It is ideal for various diets, including low-carb and paleo. It’s also abundant in minerals like zinc and iron, essential for multiple immunological and energy support activities.

How to Tell if Beef Jerky Is Bad?

In most cases, you should be able to tell whether you’ve opened a bag of decaying meat because decomposing flesh smells terrible even without moisture. Give any beef jerky a good whiff before eating it. Your nose will usually tell you what’s going on inside your body.

Visual signs can help you recognize rotten beef jerky, but they aren’t always reliable because rotting beef jerky doesn’t show until it starts to mold. For example, a bag of jerky cannot continuously be assessed by its appearance. When beef jerky reaches the end of its shelf life, it becomes darker and stiffer than typical.

  • Make sure there is no condensation on the jerky package.
  • Examine the contents of the package by opening it and removing one or two components. They should be evenly dry and slightly flexible but not completely rigid. Uneven softer, harder spots are signs of insufficient drying or moisture absorption, which damp spots can identify. As bacteria can grow in the quiet places of the jerky, you should not eat it.
  • Smell your jerky before you eat it—it should smell clean and flavorful with no “off” odors such as mildew or rancid fat. If any of these are found, you should throw the jerky away.
  • Recycle or toss any jerky with mold or discoloration evident on the surface. Mold or other germs cannot grow on jerky allowed to dry out to ensure it is safe to eat. In a nutshell, you should not eat anything moldy or discolored.

Commercial jerky can be stored in a cold, dark place for a year. Because homemade jerky packaging is less airtight, you should eat it soon. Refrigerating the jerky will extend its shelf life if you want to use it in the future. You should package your homemade jerky in minor parts to avoid throwing away a large amount of food if one or two pieces go bad.

What Will Happen if I Eat Spoiled Jerky?

Beef Jerky

If you consume ruined beef jerky, you’re probably already aware you’ll get sick. One of the worst things you can eat is lousy meat, including various hazardous germs.

The signs and symptoms of this type of food poisoning include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained body aches
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)

E.Coli and Salmonella are two of the unpleasant germs that can be contained in poor cattle. Both can be fatal in extreme situations, but they are frequently treatable. Food poisoning is still a horrible experience that no one wants to have. Substantial amounts of beef have been recalled several times due to Salmonella contamination. In the illustration above, you can see how one infected batch of beef can sicken hundreds of people.

A food poisoning epidemic in 1995 is one example of this. A poor batch of beef jerky was created in New Mexico, and it was infected with Salmonella bacteria. Two persons fell seriously ill, and the government deemed it necessary to warn all New Mexico customers about the danger. Fortunately, this incident was limited to a single brand, and a recall was issued before many individuals became ill.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?

According to USDA guidelines, commercially packed beef jerky can be stored for 1-2 years before becoming dangerous for human consumption. It’s worth noting that homemade beef jerky doesn’t last as long as store-bought jerky.

Commercial jerky is produced using a rigorous and government-regulated technique that preserves beef better than other methods. On the other hand, Homemade jerky is typically prepared in a heated oven or a small food dehydrator. These methods are ideal for making edible jerky, but the finished product will only last up to two months.

Way to Extend the Life of Your Beef Jerky

You can do a few things to make your beef jerky last longer. All of these methods will extend the shelf life of your jerky, but you should always do a “smell test” before consuming any of it. Food poisoning is so unpleasant that you should avoid it at all costs.

One option is to keep your beef jerky in the freezer. The only problem is a lack of freezer space, although those with a separate deep freezer may preserve enormous amounts of beef irregularly for several years. Bacteria and other pollutants will have difficulty infiltrating your meat and speeding up the rotting process due to the freezing environment and lack of moisture.

Another intelligent approach to keep moisture away from your jerky is desiccants (drying agents). As you may have observed, most beef jerky comes with a bag of silica gel. If you’ve ever wondered what the bag’s purpose is, it’s to absorb any moisture that may have been trapped inside the pack when it was sealed. You might take this idea further by constructing small rice bags out of fragile material. These bags may be wrapped around your jerky to keep it always dry.

When meat spoils, the fat is always the first to go wrong. The rot might spread throughout the batch when this happens, ruining it entirely. When creating homemade beef jerky, carefully chop away all fat before drying to extend its shelf life. The less fat you have, the less likely your jerky will spoil before its expiration date.


It’s not difficult to recognize when beef jerky has gone wrong, as you would have anticipated. Rotten meat is one of the most revolting foods on the planet, and even the pickiest diners will gag if they get a taste. Although beef jerky is not harmful to your health, it is essential to consume it within a few days.

If properly stored, it can last for several months in a cupboard. On the other hand, commercial beef jerky only lasts for one to two years. It’s best to use fresh ingredients when making jerky to last longer. Fresh ingredients are healthier and tastier, so try not to delay eating beef jerky just because it’s cheaper.

If you’re making your jerky, it’s likely to go bad faster than commercial-grade jerky. It’s best to purchase beef jerky from a reputable company if you’re unsure how to make it, as this might result in unsafe quality and short shelf life. Remember that buying beef jerky is an investment, so purchase only the best quality.