How to Tell If Canadian Bacon Has Gone Bad: The Complete Guide

Canadian bacon, also known as back bacon or peameal bacon is a popular breakfast meat loved for its lean tender and slightly sweet flavor. It’s made from the lean eye of the pork loin and is wet cured before being coated in cornmeal, giving it that iconic “peameal” texture.

But like any perishable food, Canadian bacon eventually goes bad. Knowing how to tell if your Canadian bacon is still safe to eat will help you avoid foodborne illness and make the most of your grocery dollars.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about determining when Canadian bacon has gone bad, including:

  • How to read package dates
  • Signs of spoiled Canadian bacon
  • Proper storage methods
  • Shelf life of fresh and cooked Canadian bacon
  • Safety of eating expired Canadian bacon

Checking the Package Date

The first thing to look for when trying to determine if your Canadian bacon is still fresh is the package date.

Canadian bacon sold at the supermarket will usually have one of two types of dates

  • “Sell by” date: Tells the store how long to display the product. You should use or freeze the bacon within 7 days of this date.

  • “Use by”/“Best by” date: Recommended date for best quality. Don’t eat Canadian bacon past this date.

So if you’re worried your package of Canadian bacon is past its prime, take a peek at the date stamp. If it has passed the “use by” date or is more than a week past the “sell by” date, it’s time to inspect the bacon more closely.

4 Signs Canadian Bacon Has Gone Bad

Even if the package date indicates your Canadian bacon should still be fresh, it’s important to verify with a visual inspection. Here are 4 signs that your Canadian bacon has spoiled and should be thrown out

1. Slimy Texture

Fresh Canadian bacon should feel slightly firm and dry to the touch. If it feels unusually slimy or slippery, that’s a red flag. Sliminess indicates bacteria growth breaking down the fat and tissues.

2. Off Odor

Take a whiff of the Canadian bacon. It should have a mild smoked meat smell. If you detect a rancid, sour or ammonia-like odor, toss it. Bad bacteria produce foul odors as they multiply.

3. Discoloration

The meat should be pink or red with visible white fat. If it has turned brown, gray, green or grown dark spots, it’s a sign of microbial spoilage.

4. Mold Growth

Check carefully along the edges and fat of the Canadian bacon for fuzzy mold growth. Any mold at all means the Canadian bacon should be discarded.

Trust your senses. If the Canadian bacon doesn’t look or smell right, don’t risk eating it. Safety first!

Proper Storage for Maximum Freshness

To get the longest shelf life out of your Canadian bacon, proper storage is a must. Here are some tips:

  • Keep Canadian bacon refrigerated at 40°F or below. The cold temperature slows bacteria growth.

  • Seal opened packages in airtight containers or plastic wrap. This prevents contamination.

  • Don’t let raw Canadian bacon drip juices on other foods. This can transfer bacteria.

  • Cooked Canadian bacon lasts longer than raw. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

  • Freeze Canadian bacon if you can’t use it within a few days. Frozen, it will keep for 1-2 months.

Follow the “If in doubt, throw it out” motto when it comes to questionable Canadian bacon. It’s simply not worth risking food poisoning.

Shelf Life of Fresh and Cooked Canadian Bacon

How long does Canadian bacon last after being opened? Here are some general guidelines for maximium shelf life:

  • Unopened Canadian bacon:

2 weeks past the “sell by” date or date of purchase.

  • After opening:

7 days in the fridge.

  • Cooked Canadian bacon:

4-5 days in the fridge.

  • Frozen Canadian bacon:

1-2 months in airtight packaging.

The above timeframes assume proper refrigeration and freezing. Use your nose, eyes and common sense along with these guidelines to determine if your Canadian bacon is over the hill.

Can You Eat Canadian Bacon After It Expires?

We don’t recommend eating Canadian bacon past the printed expiration date on the package. If it’s just a few days past, you might decide to risk it, but there’s no guarantee it’s safe.

Eating spoiled Canadian bacon can cause food poisoning with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. The bacteria responsible for these illnesses can be impossible to see, smell or taste.

It’s simply not worth getting sick over. If your Canadian bacon is past its prime, be smart and throw it out.

Choosing High-Quality Canadian Bacon

To get the most mileage from your Canadian bacon, choose high-quality packages with later sell by dates.

When possible, opt for Canadian bacon with:

  • Minimal ingredients like pork, water, salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite. Avoid lots of preservatives.

  • Trusted natural or organic brands with transparent sourcing.

  • No artificial colors or flavors.

  • Certifications like “Animal Welfare Approved” or “Certified Humane” which indicate humanely-raised meat.

Starting with better quality Canadian bacon means it will stay fresh longer and less likely make you sick if it does spoil.

Enjoy Your Canadian Bacon Safely

Canadian bacon is tasty in everything from breakfast sandwiches to pizza, pasta and more. With proper storage and signs to look for, you can catch spoiled bacon before eating. Trust your senses, follow package dates and toss bacon that seems “off”.

Choosing reputable natural brands like Coleman Natural also improves safety. Follow these tips and enjoy delicious Canadian bacon while protecting yourself and family from foodborne illness.

Canadian Bacon is actually American | Anika Rose


Does Canadian bacon go bad?

Cooked Canadian bacon only lasts for about three to four days in the fridge and up to eight weeks in the freezer.

Why is my Canadian bacon slimy?

Uncooked Canadian bacon that has passed its prime will emit a slightly sour smell or feel slimy to the touch. These are great giveaways for chefs, but for diners, these warning signs are tough to detect once the bacon is cooked.

How to tell if bacon is spoiled?

The most notable sign of rancid bacon is a change in appearance. Bacon that has gone bad doesn’t retain its redness and will instead take on a brown, gray, or greenish hue, and the color itself will seem faded. Rancid bacon also takes on an unpleasant odor and may become sticky or slimy.

Is uncured Canadian bacon safe to eat?

The truth is there is little practical difference between cured and uncured bacon in terms of health. Both are cured in the true sense of the word, meaning they are preserved. The use of the labels “cured” and “uncured” on processed meats results from Department of Agriculture labeling regulations.

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