Does Beef Jerky Go Bad?

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad?

Aug 8th 2023

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad? 

Beef jerky is a popular and delicious snack enjoyed by many. Whether you're a frequent consumer or an occasional indulger, it's natural to wonder about the shelf life of this savory treat. 

In this comprehensive article, we'll address the common question: Does beef jerky go bad? 

We will discuss the factors that influence the shelf life of beef jerky. We will also look at the indicators that it has spoiled. Additionally, we will provide guidelines on proper storage. Finally, we will share tips to maintain its freshness, taste, and safety for consumption.

Understanding Beef Jerky's Shelf Life: 

Beef jerky lasts longer than other snacks because it is dried, removing moisture and stopping bacteria from growing. However, it's important to note that while beef jerky has an extended shelf life, it is not entirely immune to spoilage. Several factors can affect the shelf life of beef jerky, including moisture content, packaging, and storage conditions.

Factors Affecting Beef Jerky's Shelf Life:

  • Moisture Content: The lower the moisture content in beef jerky, the longer its shelf life. Properly dried beef jerky with minimal moisture has a reduced risk of microbial growth and spoilage. The drying process removes moisture, making the jerky less prone to spoilage compared to fresh meat.
  • Packaging: The type of packaging plays a crucial role in maintaining the freshness of beef jerky. Find sealed packaging that keeps air and moisture out, preserving product quality and shelf life. Such packaging methods help to extend the jerky's shelf life by preventing exposure to external factors.
  • Storage Conditions: How you store beef jerky significantly impacts its longevity. Exposure to heat, humidity, and sunlight can accelerate spoilage. Storing beef jerky in a cool, dry place is essential to maintain its freshness. Avoid storing it in areas prone to temperature fluctuations or near sources of heat, such as stoves or direct

Signs of Spoilage: 

Beef jerky lasts longer, but can spoil if stored incorrectly or past its expiration date. Here are some signs to watch out for to determine if your beef jerky has spoiled:

  • Foul Odor: If the beef jerky emits an unpleasant or rancid smell, it's an indication that it has gone bad. Trust your sense of smell; if it smells off, it's best to discard it.
  • Unusual Texture: Spoiled beef jerky may become excessively dry, brittle, or develop a slimy texture. A change in texture is a clear sign that the jerky is no longer safe to consume.
  • Mold Growth: If you see mold or discoloration on beef jerky, don't eat it. Mold means there are harmful microorganisms, so it's not safe.

Proper Storage Guidelines:

To maximize the shelf life and maintain the quality of your beef jerky, follow these storage guidelines:

  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place: Keep beef jerky in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and moisture. A pantry or cupboard is an ideal location for storage.
  • Avoid Exposure to Air: Once opened, transfer the beef jerky into an airtight container or resealable bag to prevent air exposure. Oxygen can contribute to the degradation of the product, leading to a decrease in quality.
  • Check expiration dates: Look at the date on the packaging and eat the beef jerky before that date for freshness. It's important to follow this guideline to make sure you eat it within the recommended time.
  • Refrigeration (Optional): While refrigeration is not necessary for most commercially produced beef jerky, if you live in a hot and humid climate or have homemade jerky with higher moisture content, refrigerating it can extend its shelf life. Refrigeration can change texture and make jerky harder.

Additional Tips:

  • It's advisable to keep beef jerky away from strong odors, as it can absorb and retain odors from its surroundings.
  • If you plan to store beef jerky for an extended period, consider freezing it. Freezing can significantly prolong its shelf life, ensuring it stays fresh for future consumption.


Beef jerky, when stored properly, can have an extended shelf life. Understanding the factors that affect its freshness, recognizing signs of spoilage, and following appropriate storage guidelines are essential for enjoying safe and delicious beef jerky. 

Enjoy this tasty snack knowing your beef jerky is fresh, flavorful, and safe to eat by following these practices. If you're getting ready for a hike or just need a snack, make sure to store your beef jerky correctly. Additionally, remember to consume it within the recommended time. Stay mindful of the signs of spoilage, and always prioritize your health and safety when consuming any food product.