Why is my steak brown?

Oh no. Why is my steak brown? We have all seen it in the supermarkets. We frantically search for another pack. The cut of beef that is not quite red, and well – brown. Sometimes it turns brown when we go home and when you open it there is a brown colour.

Cue panic and mayhem. We search for the till slip and want to hastily return it to said supermarket. Why is my steak brown?!

So if beef has turned brown in its packaging or in the fridge, has it gone bad?


The process of oxidation can change the colour of the beef and simply opening the packet and letting it stand for 3-5 minutes can bring back that ‘normal’ red colour you are accustomed to.

If my steak turns brown, is it a sign that’s it is starting to go off?

Possibly, but highly unlikely. Spoilage is a process that occurs over time and is the result of the growth of spoilage bacteria. There is no one point in time where a product is fresh and wholesome and then suddenly becomes spoiled.  Changes in color can be an indicator that the process is beginning, but color change alone does not mean the product is spoiled.

If it has turned a colour closer to green, adois I’m afraid.

What is the texture?

Do not test this with your mouth. Do not test this with your mouth. In South Africa we say everything twice. If your steak or beef is slimy or overly sticky, it might be best to discard it.

What does it smell like?

This is by far the best way to tell. Take a deep sniff. If there’s a distinct, pungent (horrific) aroma that makes you want to retch, throw far away. 

Ultimately, the best way to take care of your meat is to freeze it correctly or use it within a day or two of purchasing. In all my years I have yet to have a bad experience.

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