Lamb Smells Bad
Food Preparation,  Lamb

Lamb Meat Smells Bad – Is It Safe To Eat?

You’ve gone to the refrigerator to get ready to cook the lamb meat that you have been storing, but now it doesn’t smell so appetising.

Depending on how often you cook lamb, you may be left unsure as to whether the meat is still safe to cook, or if it has spoiled and needs to be thrown away.

So how can you tell if the lamb has gone bad? Fresh lamb meat will have a light pink to dark red flesh with a creamy colored fat covering and a slight gamey odor. Lamb that has spoiled will have a greyish tinge to the flesh and the fat will be dry and brown looking. The lamb will also smell unpleasant and be slimy to the touch. If your lamb is showing any of these spoilage signs, then it should be thrown away!

We will now look further into when it is safe to eat lamb that may not be so fresh, and when you should definitely throw it away.

What does Fresh Lamb Look Like?

Lamb is a fairly expensive meat, and so it may be that you don’t eat it all that often. Therefore, when it comes to knowing if the meat is fresh or not, you may not know what to look for.

Here are a few things that let you know the lamb is fresh.

  • Moist sheen to the flesh
  • Light pink to deep red flesh color
  • Creamy bright fat covering
  • Slight gamey odor but not overpowering
  • Visually appealing
Lamb Chops Explained
Fresh Looking Lamb Chops

What Does Not So Fresh Lamb Look Like?

There are times when your lamb meat will start to show signs of ageing, however it is far from the point of needing to be thrown away.

Before you ruin your dinner ideas and waste money, make sure you are familiar with the following signs that show your lamb needs cooking soon, but is still perfectly fine to eat.

  • Dryer surface to the flesh
  • Flesh starting to turn a dull dark red to brown color
  • Fat starting to dry out at the edges and discolor
  • Odor slightly stronger but not unpleasant
  • Not visually offputting

You can store your lamb for up to 3 days in the refrigerator if it is fresh when you buy it. However, over the few days in your refrigerator, you will see the lamb begin to take on the characteristics mentioned above.

At this point, the lamb is still perfectly safe to eat, and the taste difference will be negligible to it being eaten fresh. If anything, the flavor of the lamb will be slightly stronger, and some people prefer that and will intentionally keep their lamb in the refrigerator for a few days to enhance the flavor. This is often referred to as ‘hanging’ the lamb.

Although fresh lamb can be eaten like steak ie: rare / medium rare etc, it is advised that you ensure the lamb as reached an internal temperature of at least 165oF if it is showing the sign above. Spoilage bacteria may be more prevalent on the meat, and will require a higher heat to be sure it is destroyed!

Lamb Aged A Few Days Can Look Browner and Dryer than Fresh But Is Still Safe To Eat!

Signs That The Lamb Has Spoiled And Should Not Be Eaten

If you put the lamb in your refrigerator and forgot about it for a week, then you will see some stark differences in the meat you originally stored.

That is not to say that after a week, you will automatically need to throw it away, as depending on how you stored the lamb, and how fresh it was when you bought it, it may have only reached the state of the points above.

However, if your lamb is showing any of the following signs, it has reached the spoilage stage and should not be used but thrown away.

  • Greyish unpalatable looking flesh
  • Dry and curling brown/green tinged fat
  • Strong unpleasant odor
  • Slimy surface to the meat

All of the signs above are indications that the meat is now rotting. If you are hesitant to throw away the meat at this stage, ask yourself how comfortable you are with eating rotten food? However, many people think the spoiled lamb smells like poop and so I don’t think you will be tempted to eat it anyway!

Spoiled Meat Will Look Unappetising, Feel Slimy and Smell Bad!

How To Store Lamb For Freshness

How you store the lamb will have an effect on how long it will remain useable before spoiling.

Quite often the lamb will be sold in some kind of plastic wrap, either on a meat tray in the supermarket, or placed into a plastic bag by the butcher.

Plastic is not ideal conditions for the lamb, and should be removed from the packaging when placing in the refrigerator.

Place the lamb onto a plate and loosely cover with foil to allow some air to circulate around the meat. This will lead to a little drying out of the flesh as mentioned earlier.

Ensure that any juices that leak from the lamb cannot drip onto other foods in the refrigerator. If liquid pools under the meat after a day, then drain it off and wipe the plate clean before replacing back into the refrigerator.

If your lamb has been sold in a vacuum sealed pouch, then it is fine to leave the meat in this packaging until you are ready to use it. Vacuum packed meats tend to have a longer shelf life than normal packed meat due to the removal of the air from the package.

Do ensure that the vacuum packaging is still tight around the meat, otherwise it may be compromised and air is getting into the packaging. In this instance, you would treat it as fresh.

We have an article here that talks about how to ensure your vacuum sealed meat is still fresh!

Does it Smell Delicious When Cooking?

Sometimes, the signs may not be enough for you to feel that you can throw away that expensive cut of lamb, we get that. One sure fire way to know if the lamb is still good to eat is when it is cooking.

When lamb cooks, the smell that fills the kitchen will get your juices running and you will be looking forward to eating the meat.

If your lamb has spoiled, the kitchen will be filled with an awful stench that will certainly be anything but appetising and you will not want to eat it.

If your kitchen is smelling anything other than aromatic and inviting, then take the meat out of the oven and toss it away. It’s time to put something else on the menu for dinner tonight!

Roasting Fresh Lamb Will Smell Delicious – Spoiled Lamb Will Smell Horrible!


Lamb can sometimes be a difficult meat to decide whether or not it has spoiled. Older lamb will have a stronger odor than spring lamb, and the fat will be more of a browner color than creamy. However, the smell of spoiled lamb is usually a very good indication that the meat has gone off. If the smell of the meat, coupled with a slimy feel, makes you in any way think that something is not right, then it is time to throw that meat away.