What happens if spoiled beef is eaten?

Fact Checked

Beef that is not properly cooked, contaminated with raw meat juice or left out in room temperature for an extended period, it can become spoiled with bacteria. Even the acidic gastrointestinal juices present in the stomach could not completely eliminate these bacteria which will multiply within the body at a fast rate. Even though the immune system can eliminate pathogens in the body with minimal effects, the process often triggers the manifestation of unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning.

Onset of poisoning

The time frame upon the development of the symptoms usually depends on the type of bacteria present in the beef. Staphylococcus aureus can trigger symptoms as early as an hour after eating spoiled beef. Take note that salmonella can take up to 72 hours. Some types of bacteria that have a long incubation period such as Listeria monocytogenes which might not trigger symptoms for a month.

Spoiled beef
Always bear in mind that these symptoms typically start with abdominal pain, nausea and headache which leads to chills, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.

If the individual has eaten spoiled beef yet there are no symptoms, he/she should not eat the meat anymore. The beef should be disposed of and clean any surfaces that came in contact with it using soap, water and a disinfectant.


Most types of bacteria can trigger gastrointestinal distress which differs in strength based on the specific strain and the quantity of spoiled beef eaten. Always bear in mind that these symptoms typically start with abdominal pain, nausea and headache which leads to chills, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. Oftentimes, Campylobacter jejuni can also instigate body aches and enlarged lymph nodes. In almost all cases, there is moderate to severe fatigue. The symptoms are not usually life-threatening except among infants, elderly and those who have a weakened immune system. The common serious complications include dehydration that is triggered by vomiting and diarrhea.

In most circumstances, poisoning instigated by spoiled beef can resolve on its own without medical care in a span of a week. Nevertheless, certain strains can trigger symptoms up to 10 days. Young children and the elderly as well as those with weakened immune system can suffer from complications longer than this. The serious complications of L. monocytogenes such as meningitis can last for weeks.

Consideration to bear in mind

Spoiled beef is not the same with tainted beef. If beef is bad due to spoilage, other bacteria are at work than those that cause food poisoning. In most cases, the meat has a foul odor or has slime on the surface but will not cause perceptible symptoms if consumed. Take note that the bacteria that causes spoilage produces an odor. Always bear in mind that you cannot determine whether beef is tainted with bacteria that will cause food poisoning by simply smelling it.

If you are in doubt whether beef is spoiled or not, it is better to stay safe and avoid one if you believe that is already spoiled. It is best that you are prepared to provide relief to the symptoms of food poisoning. All you have to do is to register for first aid training today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidcprmississauga.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.