Do Beef Sticks Go Bad? How to Tell if Yours Have Spoiled

Beef sticks are a popular high-protein snack that can be readily found in a variety of flavors and textures But with their elongated shelf life compared to fresh meats, it’s common to wonder – do beef sticks go bad?

The short answer is yes, beef sticks can go bad eventually Properly stored, commercial beef sticks last 2-3 weeks after opening Homemade beef sticks last 1-2 weeks in the fridge. Signs of spoiled beef sticks include mold, sliminess, funny colors or sour odors.

Below we’ll cover everything you need to know about how long beef sticks last, how to store them to maximize freshness, and how to tell if your beef sticks have gone bad.

How Long Do Beef Sticks Last?

The shelf life of beef sticks depends primarily on two factors:

  1. Ingredients – Commercial beef sticks loaded with preservatives last longer than homemade

  2. Storage method – Refrigeration extends the shelf life versus leaving them out on the counter.

Here are some general guidelines for how long properly stored beef sticks last:

  • Unopened commercial beef sticks – About 1-2 months past the sell-by date.

  • Opened commercial beef sticks – 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

  • Homemade beef sticks – 1-2 weeks in the fridge.

Of course, food safety is about more than just dates and times. You also need to assess the look, smell and texture of beef sticks regardless of when they were opened or made.

How to Extend the Shelf Life of Beef Sticks

Follow these simple storage tips to get the maximum lasting freshness out of your beef sticks:

  • Store unopened beef sticks in a cool, dark pantry away from heat and sunlight.

  • Once opened, immediately refrigerate beef sticks. Cold temperatures slow bacteria growth.

  • Seal opened packs in airtight containers or resealable bags. This prevents drying out.

  • Avoid introducing extra moisture that could cause sogginess through condensation.

  • When refrigerating, keep beef sticks towards the back away from the door where temperature fluctuates.

  • Resist the urge to eat straight from the pack. Always use clean utensils to minimize contamination.

  • Check ingredients and follow any specific storage instructions on the label.

With the right storage, both store-bought and homemade beef sticks can safely last a good while.

How to Tell if Beef Sticks Have Gone Bad

Beef sticks that have spoiled due to bacteria or mold will show obvious signs. Here’s what to look for:

  • Sliminess – Fresh beef sticks feel slightly tacky. Slime or goo indicates spoilage.

  • Mold – Fuzzy white, green or black mold spots mean toss beef sticks out.

  • Weird colors – Gray, brown or green hues signal beef sticks have gone bad.

  • Funny smells – Sour, rotten or ammonia odors mean don’t eat them.

  • Texture changes – Very stiff, dried out or mushy textures denote spoilage.

  • Discoloration – Patches of black, green or yellow suggest mold and bacteria.

  • Date – Beef sticks stored for longer than recommended should get thrown out.

When inspecting beef sticks, remember to check all surfaces thoroughly. Discard the entire pack at the first signs of spoilage. Don’t risk eating beef sticks once they’ve clearly gone bad.

Can You Eat Beef Sticks After the Expiration Date?

The expiration or sell-by date on a beef stick package is an indication of peak freshness, not necessarily an exact deadline for when it’s unsafe to eat them.

As long as beef sticks have been properly stored, you can generally still safely consume them for:

  • 1-2 weeks past the printed date for commercial sticks.

  • 4-5 days past for homemade sticks.

However, you can’t rely on dates alone to determine if beef sticks have spoiled. Make sure to also check the smell, texture, and appearance before eating beef sticks past their date. Discard immediately if you see any mold or slime.

When in doubt, remember the old adage – “When in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t take risks with your health.

Can You Freeze Beef Sticks?

Freezing is a great way to significantly extend the shelf life of beef sticks. Here are some freezing tips:

  • Divide into usable portions and place in airtight bags or containers. Exclude excess air.

  • Label packages with contents and date before freezing.

  • Freeze immediately after opening for best quality.

  • Frozen beef sticks last for 3-6 months.

  • Thaw sticks overnight in the fridge before using.

  • Don’t refreeze beef sticks after they’ve thawed.

Freezing prevents the growth of bacteria and molds, keeping beef sticks fresher for longer. Just be sure to practice good food safety when handling them.

Common Questions about Beef Sticks Going Bad

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about determining if those beef sticks are still good to eat:

How can you tell if beef jerky has gone bad?

The same signs that indicate spoiled beef sticks apply to beef jerky too – mold, sliminess, funky smells and odd textures or colors. Discard at the first signs of spoilage.

Can expired beef jerky make you sick?

Eating beef jerky that has clearly expired and shows signs of spoilage can definitely make you ill. Don’t risk it if you see any mold.

Is white stuff on beef jerky mold?

Not necessarily. Some white on jerky is just crystallized fat. However, fuzzy or spotty white patches very likely indicate spoilage. When uncertain, play it safe and toss it out.

What happens if you eat bad beef jerky?

Consuming beef sticks or jerky with mold can cause digestive upset or illness resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe infections are possible.

Can you get food poisoning from beef jerky?

Yes, foodborne pathogens like salmonella or E. coli can contaminate beef during processing. Properly cooking jerky reduces this risk but storing it while contaminated can allow bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.

The bottom line – don’t take chances with beef sticks that look or smell questionable. It’s simply not worth risking foodborne illness.

When stored properly in the fridge or freezer, most beef sticks stay fresh for a few weeks. But eventually they can spoil, especially if left out too long. Keep an eye out for obvious signs like slime, mold and sour smells to determine if your beef sticks have gone bad. Follow good food safety practices, and you can feel confident your snacks are safe to enjoy. Discard beef sticks at the first suspicion they’ve gone off. With a little vigilance, you can avoid tummy trouble from spoiled beef sticks.

How can I tell if my meat’s gone bad?


Can you eat expired beef sticks?

The best-by date on the package indicates the window of peak freshness. As long as it has been stored properly, unopened jerky is safe to consume after the best-by date. But it won’t taste as good as fresh jerky. As a general rule of thumb, commercial beef jerky is best enjoyed within 1 year.

How long does it take for beef sticks to go bad?

Unopened, commercial beef sticks will last for up to one year from the date of production. When left unopened, they do not require refrigeration and are perfectly safe to store at room temperature. Opened beef sticks, however, should be refrigerated and are best enjoyed within three days.

What is the shelf life of meat sticks?

When stored in the refrigerator, they remain fresh and delicious for up to 12 months, ensuring that you always have a tasty and satisfying snack within arm’s reach whenever hunger strikes.

Do old Wisconsin beef sticks need to be refrigerated?

Yes, all Old Wisconsin “Keep Refrigerated” products are ready to eat and fully cooked. Products usually served hot should be heated before serving, and the products served cold should be refrigerated until ready for use.

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