The slimy texture on your turkey bacon most likely means that it is going bad. The slime appears when naturally occurring bacteria within the meat feast on sugar. This sugar is usually added to the turkey meat during the manufacturing process, producing lactic acid as a by-product.
Turkey bacon sandwiches are a breakfast favorite at my diner. Since I often have to buy turkey bacon in bulk, I can tell you how I keep it fresher for longer and how to tell when it has gone bad.
In this article, I will explain what may cause your turkey bacon to become slimy. I will also explain the telltale signs of spoilt turkey bacon and how to properly store it. Let's get started.
The sticky slime on your turkey bacon can be due to one of these three reasons:
Simply put, lactobacillus bacteria break down and convert carbohydrates into organic acids. In this case, the bacteria in the turkey convert the sugar used in manufacturing turkey bacon into lactic acid. This gives it a slimy texture and a sour odor.
Lactic acid bacteria in healthy amounts can have several health benefits like a stronger immune system, improved gut health, and better nutrient absorption.
Lactic acid bacteria are found in many fermented foods including pickled vegetables, cheese, yogurt, kimchi, and beer.
In other foods like carbonated drinks and olives, it is used as a preservative.
However, an excess of lactic acid can promote the growth of other harmful bacteria and we can safely conclude that your turkey bacon is bad.
After processing, turkey bacon is vacuum sealed for preservation before being distributed. During the vacuuming process, the turkey's natural fluids can be squeezed out and with time, this liquid gelatinizes and looks a lot like slime.
This one is however more solid than the slime caused by lactic acid. It is also easy to peel off the edges.
If you are within the sell-by date, remove the gelatin layer from the bacon and cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
This only applies if you had cooked the turkey bacon and then stored it. In this case, the grease can give the bacon a slimy look even if it is not spoiled.
Take it out of the fridge and microwave it or fry it for a few seconds. If it renders as grease, it is safe to consume.
Turkey bacon has a natural-looking pink color that is very inviting just like raw meat. It is soft, slightly squishy, and moist to the touch. Bad turkey bacon feels slimy.
If your turkey bacon has any or all of these qualities it is not safe to eat. You should throw it out.
Fresh turkey bacon has pink color stained with a few white streaks of fat just like regular meat. The fat can also have a pale yellow color.
A brown or gray color is an indicator of mold growth. At this point, it will already feel slimy. Similarly, bad meat develops a brown or gray color along its exterior. Throw it away immediately.
Fresh turkey bacon smells like fresh meat since that is what it's made of. It can also have a slightly smoky scent based on the curing process. Spoiled turkey bacon has a foul odor. A smell that you can't miss.
The feel of fresh bacon is soft and slightly moist. An excess of lactic acid buildup leaves the turkey bacon slimy or sticky, giving it a gooey texture. Discard it.
So, you stored your fresh turkey bacon, and now that you want to make a sandwich you discover it is spoiled. What could you have done wrong along the way? Below are two possible scenarios:
You opened the vacuum package, exposed the bacon slices to air, and forgot to reseal the turkey bacon immediately.
Vacuum packaging prolongs the shelf life of your bacon by keeping out oxygen that would otherwise encourage the rapid growth of aerobic fungi and bacteria.
It is important to reseal in zip-lock bags, plastic wrap, or pull back the seal, keeping out as much air as possible before storing it.
If you intend to keep turkey bacon longer than seven days, it would be better to freeze it. In the fridge, your turkey bacon will still go bad even if it remains unopened due to the above-zero temperature that can allow microbial activity.
Fridge temperatures slow down microbial action but any longer than seven days and your bacon will begin to spoil.
The other possibility is that you keep the temperature in the fridge too high. Keep your fridge temperature constantly below 40°F to keep the bacon from spoiling prematurely.
You can store turkey bacon in the refrigerator at 40°F for up to 7 days, or in the freezer (at 0°F) for up to four months.
For shelf-stable bacon, refrigerate at 85 °F or below after opening the seal.
As for leftover turkey bacon, it is best to err on the side of caution. After cooking, drain all the excess grease and cool to room temperature. Wrap sliced turkey servings individually in cling wrap or foil, keeping out as much air as you can.
To keep turkey bacon good for longer:
Freeze turkey bacon in portion sizes that make it easier to only thaw what you need.
Each time you take food out of the freezer even if it's just to pick what you need from a package, it starts to thaw.
All the bacteria that were suppressed by the low temperatures become active. They begin to proliferate and grow.
You should buy turkey bacon last when shopping and put it in the freezer as soon as you get home to keep the thawing process at a minimum.
Also, check the sell-by date and pick the freshest product. Raw meat, bacon included, will only be as fresh as when it is put in the freezer, so the sooner the better.
Always put cooked turkey bacon in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Leaving it at room temperature for too long will encourage the growth of bacteria. Refrigerating after this will not reverse this process.
Try to keep the temperature in the freezer constantly at 0°F to keep your raw turkey bacon fresh for longer. Fluctuating temperatures could encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause food illness.
Turkey bacon refers to meat prepared from chopped turkey meat and then seasoned, cured, and smoked just like with conventional bacon.
It is sold ready to be slapped on the sandwich but I recommend heating it until crispy for the best flavor.
Although turkey bacon is marketed as being a healthier option than pork bacon, it is still a highly processed meat that should be consumed in moderation or completely kept out of your diet.
It has fewer calories than regular bacon and can be a good substitute for those on special diets or those who wish to adhere to religious practices that prohibit pork from the diet.
Although turkey bacon is said to be richer in protein, it actually has approximately less protein than pork bacon.
Turkey bacon, like pork bacon, could contain nitrites and nitrates that manufacturers add to the meat during the curing process to enhance the flavor and prolong its shelf life.
Turkey bacon is also high in saturated fat which heightens cholesterol levels and puts you at risk for heart disease. To boost heart health, it is advised that you avoid foods with high saturated fat content.
Both turkey bacon and pork bacon are also very high in sodium although turkey bacon has a slightly lower quantity of sodium than pork bacon. Given these values, you should not eat pork bacon or turkey bacon on a daily basis as most bacon lovers do.
If you want to include it in your diet, these guidelines will give you the healthiest outcome:
Slimy turkey bacon is unsafe for human consumption. Do not consume it.
Of course, turkey bacon goes bad. Vacuum sealing works by effectively starving aerobic bacteria of the oxygen they need to thrive until after the expiration date but the deterioration of flavor starts sooner.
To avoid foodborne illness, stick to proper refrigeration and freezing guidelines. It is also best to consume any meat within the best-before date.
The white stuff on your bacon is most likely slime. This usually means your bacon has gone bad.
If it is leftover turkey bacon, it could be congealed fat. To test this, pick one slice and heat it. If the fat renders, then this is not slime.
You can easily tell a strip of spoiled turkey bacon from a fresh one by inspecting the slice. Slimy bacon coupled with either a sour smell, gooey texture, mold, or any combination of the three is a clear indication that it should be discarded.
Turkey bacon, when fresh freezes well if you follow the provided guidelines and consume it before the expiration date. That said when in doubt, do not risk food poisoning. So toss it.