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Sometimes when I buy lunch meat cuts, from the supermarket, they quickly get slimy on the outside. Regardless of the date which is indicated by the sticker.

I perform taste, smell, and visual checks for discoloration, but the cuts of meat seem to pass all those criteria.

Is this a sign that it's about to expire? Also, why does it get slimy?

FYI: This happens on Dietz BBQ chicken, and this other chicken cut I get from Costco.

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I've wondered this as well. Many lunch meats seem to accumulate an unappealing white slime on them. It doesn't seem like decay. Perhaps fat melted out of them at room temperatures and re-solidified on the surface in the fridge? – Sobachatina Jun 20 '11 at 18:20
@Sobachatina something is amiss if your luncheon meats are coming to room temperature (or anywhere close). – derobert Oct 4 '12 at 21:46
Wahoo 10,000 views! Too bad just 7 upvotes :( – chrisjlee Apr 13 '15 at 16:26
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The rate of slime of a piece of food has to do with amount of surface area it has. At each point a food's surface is an entry point for bacteria. Since there is always bacteria on any cutting utensil or machine every cut piece of meat has been seeded with a bacteria culture. Although it might not kill you or make you visibly sick, the slime is coming from microbes which will stress your immune system that might be fighting other things instead. Unless it's Nato beans or oysters slime on food is no good. If the cold cuts are sliming quickly it might be because the grocer is not cleaning the machine properly or somebody's refrigeration is not cold enough, 5 to 10 degree f too warm.

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These are slime forming bacteria and there could be many ways in which the meat is being contaminated, starting from your raw materials, to handling, cooking or cleaning.

There are several types of bacteria such as Leuconostoc. As these bacteria reproduce they give off a gas witch causes the packages to puff up, it will not hurt you but it does look bad. This usually happens at the 30 to 60 day mark

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If your lunch meat has white slime on it, throw it out! The white slime is Listeria, a bacteria that can be deadly, especially dangerous to pregnant women.

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I was able to find that listeria is indeed sometimes found on luncheon meats and is a risk particularly to pregnant women, infants, the elderly and the immune compromised. FDA on Listeria. I was not able to find any mention of listeria casing slime, white or otherwise. Could you provide a source? – Jolenealaska Oct 5 '14 at 3:26

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