Pork Smells Like Sulfur: Is The Meat Bad?

August 28, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

If your pork has a sulfuric or rotten-egg smell, it’s probably from the Cryovac packaging. Remove the pork from the wrapping, rinse it off, and stick it in the fridge. Circle back in an hour or so, and the smell should be gone. If the pork still smells worse than a locker room, toss it out – that meat is bad. 

Food safety was drilled into us at culinary school. No one wants to make people sick from bad food, so we covered all the signs of food spoilage. I’ll go over them in this article. I’ll help you figure out if your meat is unsafe to prepare for your friends and family!

I’ll also fill you in on why your pork smells like sulfur in greater detail. Then, I’ll go over how to remove the bad smell from pork and explain how to prevent odor in the future.

Pork Smells Like Sulfur

Why Pork Smells Like Eggs?

There are three main reasons your pork smells like rotten eggs. The smell could be because of the packaging used, boar taint, or the meat could be bad. I’ll cover each reason in-depth:

1. Vacuum Packaging

Vacuum-packed (called Cryovac packaging) pork can off a sulfur-like smell. It’s notorious in the BBQ community. 

Cryovac packaging is a common method for storing pork. The vacuum pack is totally emptied of oxygen. This vacuum seal makes the pork stays fresh longer.

Unfortunately, this form of storage can lead to gas buildup, releasing a rotten egg odor when opened. Remember, the rotten egg smell from the pork doesn’t indicate that the meat is bad. If the pork is still within its sell-by date and isn’t exhibiting any signs of spoilage, rinse it off and put it in the fridge. The smell should go away, and you can prepare the meat as planned.

2. Boar Taint

Boar taint (yes, that’s really what it’s called) can make pork smell and taste bad, like urine or sweat. Boar taint is rare, occurring in only 20% of adult male pigs. Most pigs are slaughtered before adulthood, further reducing the likelihood of boar taint. I’ve never eaten pork that I suspected of being “tainted.”

This odor is due to androstenone, a substance only present in male pigs. Pork that has boar taint is safe to eat, but it won’t be a pleasant dining experience. No one wants to eat pork that smells and tastes like urine or sweat. If you’ve got a slab of pork that you suspect has boar taint, pitch it.

 3. The Meat is Spoiled

If meat is not properly stored or it’s past its sell-by date, it will likely smell bad. That meat is spoiled, and it’s destined for your garbage can.

Store your meat in the refrigerator as soon as you return from the store or butcher. It’ll last 3 to 5 days if stored below 40°F. If you can’t cook it by then, stick it in the freezer, where it will stay good forever, but is best within 3 months.

pork wrapped in a plastic bag

How to Get Rid of The Sulfur Smell?

Start by rinsing the pork and then refrigerating it. If the pork was stored in Cryo, this should remove the odor. If the pork still smells bad after the rinse and refrigeration, pitch it. No piece of meat is worth getting sick over. 

Pork that smells bad and wasn’t packed in Cryovac should be thrown out. It’s spoiled, and no amount of rinsing will save it.

If your pork has boar taint, there’s no way to remove the odor. Toss it in the trashcan, and look for a new source of meat.

How to Prevent Pork from Smelling Like Sulfur?

Buy your pork fresh and cook it within 3 to 5 days to avoid the sulfuric odor. The less time your pork spends on a store shelf or refrigerator, the better it will taste.

How to Identify Bad Pork?

There are a few foolproof ways to tell if your pork is rotten. I’ll highlight the four key indicators.

1. Smell

Boar taint can give off a smell like urine or sweat. If your pork smells like a locker room, it’s got the taint. I’d pitch it. 

Spoiled pork has a stronger foul stench. The smell of rotten meat is overpowering and awful. If the smell is very bad, you should return it to the store (if it was stored properly and within the sell-by date) or throw it out.

2. Texture

You can also touch the pork to determine whether it is rotten. Pork should have a firm texture and bounce back when you press it.

You should be suspicious of the meat if it is mushy to the touch. Sliminess is another texture to look for. If your meat is slimy or mushy, don’t cook it and eat it. That meat has a date with the garbage can.

3. Color

The color of your meat is another indicator of whether it is good or not. Fresh pork should be pinkish with some fatty white strands.

If the meat has brown, gray, or green coloring, you should toss it. That pork is spoiled.

4. Presence of Mold

Mold is bad news. The presence of mold is a surefire sign that you should throw the pork away.

Should Raw Pork Smell?

Raw pork should smell slightly meaty. As discussed earlier, vacuum-packed meat may have a faint sulfur or egg scent. Try rinsing and refrigerating Cryovac-sealed pork, and see if the odor goes away. If so, cook as planned. If the smell is still there, pitch it.

If the smell is overpowering, that pork has taken a turn for the worse. Pitch it. 

Related Reading

raw pork on a baking sheet

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Can I Keep Ground Pork in the Refrigerator?

Ground pork can stay in the refrigerator for one to two days at a temperature of 40 °F. If you can’t use the meat by then, you can freeze it. If you freeze pork, thaw and consume it within 3 months for the best tasting results.

2. What Does Spoiled Pork Smell Like?

Bad pork has an acidic, ammonia-like scent. Remember to inspect the raw meat properly when buying it at the butcher shop. You can tell the meat is fresh by its pink color. I like to buy meat that was packaged that day. Fresh is always best.

3. What Happens When You Eat Spoiled Pork?

It’s not a day at Disneyland, I’ll tell you that. Eating bad pork will expose you to food poisoning. You may experience diarrhea, a loss of appetite, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Food poisoning can last a day, but sometimes symptoms may last for up to a week.

Don’t get yourself or your crew sick. Discard any meat that smells if the odor doesn’t go away after you rinse and refrigerate the pork.


It’s crucial to know why your pork meat smells the way it does. The meat may smell like sulfur or rotten eggs because of the packaging or boar taint. Or, the odor might indicate that the meat is going bad.

So, remember all the steps I outlined to check if your pork is going bad. If it is, don’t take any chances and throw it out.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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