How To Tell if Bologna is Bad [Definitive Guide]

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A favourite ‘pressed meat’ for sandwiches and other recipes for decades, in Europe and other western countries.

Bologna comes in several varieties; where different flavours, textures, and ingredients can be included. So, how do you know it’s safe to eat, and how do you tell if your bologna is bad?

How to Tell if Bologna is Bad

You should always view ‘Use-By’ or ‘Best-Before’ dates when assessing any food; whether that’s in a vacuum-sealed packet, or from a deli, as this is a good indicator as to when you should discard potentially dangerous goods.

But, it is possible for products to go bad before those dates, which is why you need to know what to look out for:


Bologna that has turned, or is in the process of going bad, will look dull, faded, and just uninviting. The colour can take on a strange pigment, meaning it’s less pink and more orange-grey and can even turn white as it goes bad. So, if it’s pink it’s safe, anything else and you’re asking for trouble.


This is usually the greatest sign of whether or not your bologna is okay or not. The smell of bologna that is in the process of going bad will be faint, compared to when it’s fully turned, but it will still be noticeable; sour and slightly rotten.


Where bologna that is safe to eat is firm and dry to the touch (whilst still moist to eat), it should not leave any sort of residue or slime on your finger when touched. Equally, sliced bologna should not be slimy once cut into slices, any indication of this sort of dampness is bad.


This is the last method of confirming whether or not your bologna has gone bad – and should not be used as a means to assess food safety.

If, once you have tasted the bologna, you detect any hint of sourness, slipperiness, or hint of sulphur about the meat; you should immediately discard it, especially from your mouth.

Consuming spoiled meat will cause physical discomfort via stomach aches, and potentially hospitalisation for food poisoning.

How Long Does Bologna Last

Being made from a variety of ingredients, including beef and pork, along with nitrosomyoglobin, which helps keep the meat an appealing pink colour, it unfortunately also means that bologna’s shelf life is much shorter than other deli meats.

How Long Does Bologna Last in the Fridge

This is where most consumers will keep their unopened package of bologna, and when freshly sliced and packaged, it usually lasts for around 1 week, or until the ‘Use-By’ or ‘Best-Before’ date.

Whilst it may be safe to consume the meat past this date, the bologna should be carefully inspected rather than assumed to be safe to eat.

However, if purchased from a delicatessen, where it has been exposed to airborne contaminants whilst on display, it is safer to consume the deli meat within a matter of 2-3 days – provided that it is still within the ‘Use-By’ or ‘Best-Before’ date that has been provided.

It’s unwise to delay eating delicatessen meats, due to the higher risk due to being on display – buy fresh, eat fresh is a much safer way to go!

How Long Does Bologna Last in the Freezer

Freezing your newly-bought, but not yet needed, bologna is a smart way to increase its shelf life. Kept at below freezing point, bologna will last for 1-2 months without losing any quality. It’s still safe to eat for a number of months after this; it just won’t taste as good.

How Long Does Bologna Last on the Countertop

As with most high-protein products, leaving bologna on a countertop is not a great idea. Left at ambient temperatures, bologna will go off within a matter of a couple of hours, any meat left out for longer than 2 hours should be discarded.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to keep your bologna in optimal conditions so it lasts as long as possible. Keep reading to find out how to do this.

How To Store Bologna

Follow these straightforward directions to get the best results, and the longest shelf life, out of your bologna.

How To Store Bologna in the Fridge

If you’ve bought pre-packaged commercially produced bologna in a vacuum-sealed package, there’s very little you need to do; just keep it in your fridge at 1˚-4˚C/33˚-39˚F, keep an eye on the ‘Use-By’ or ‘Best-Before’ stamp, and don’t open it until you’re ready to eat it.

Freshly sliced bologna is best enjoyed when bought and eaten within 24-48 hours, after that you should consider the best and safest means to store it for later consumption.

To get the maximum storage time, ensure your delicatessen bologna is kept in an airtight container, and preferably wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, or aluminium foil.

How To Store Bologna in the Freezer

Once your bologna is ready for storage in your fridge, it’s very easy to upgrade it for freezer storage. All you need to do is place a few extra wrappings around it, or place it in a thick plastic bag or container, and store that in the freezer – but do note the day you do this, so you know when to thaw and eat it by.

How To Store Bologna on the Countertop

It’s acceptable to keep your bologna here if you intend on eating it within a very short amount of time (10-20minutes). Just keep it in the airtight container/packaging, and only open it when you’re absolutely ready to use it.

What to Use Instead of Bologna

mortadella then try bologna, olive loaf, or Thüringer

To Sum Up

Stored in the fridge, it will last for at least a week, or freeze it for 1-2 months.

However, if your bologna changes colour to grey or green, begins to feel slimy to the touch, or develops a smell, then your bologna’s gone bad.