Bacon is a fresh meat product so of course it will spoil in time, especially if not properly stored.
Refrigerate As Soon As Possible
Bacon is a cured product which contains a lot of salt, a natural preservative. So it won’t spoil immediately, especially if the packaging is vacuum sealed and unopened. However, if left out at room temperature in this way then how long it will last will of course depend upon the temperature of the room that it is stored in.
You do not want to be leaving bacon out on a hot summer’s day! So the golden rule, is to always refrigerate as soon as you can and then you can refer to the table below to get a better idea of storage.
If you have not refrigerated it, it’s impossible to give a definitive time that it will go bad, so now you have to rely on common sense.
How To Know If Bacon Has Gone Bad
There are two main factors – the look and the smell. If the color changes and it begins to take on a brownish tint, then throw it out! Fresh meat should be pink and not brown, the fat should be white and not yellow.
Similarly, if it smells bad, toss it! We don’t really need to describe the bad smell here – use your gut instinct. Fresh meat doesn’t smell bad but rotten meat does. If you think it smells off, then don’t take the risk. This is true of all meats, but especially pork products which can cause an illness called trichinosis which will make you very ill with abdominal pain, vomitting, fever and fatigue.
Lastly, have a look at the texture. If it looks like it has a slimy film to it then it’s gone bad. And of course if you see anything fuzzy on the surface, that it almost certainly some kind of mold then you’ve gone way past so get rid of it immediately!
Approximate Shelf Life
There are a few factors to take into consideration – firstly, if the bacon is raw or cooked. Secondly, if raw, whether or not the packaging has been opened. Then of course it will differ depending on whether it is stored in the refridgerator or the freezer.
The first step is to look at the use by date printed on the packaging. If you bought it from a butcher, farmers market or some other source that does not have a printed date, then simply use the date or purchase instead.
Because of the curing process and high salt content, you can usually extend these dates by a fair bit. Refer to the table below, which is taken from the USDA: