According to the USDA, hamburger meat is not the same as ground beef. This national food overseer allows beef fat to be added to "hamburger meat" during processing but not to ground beef. Besides this fatty difference, the process is relatively the same. Because hamburger meat is ground, a larger portion of it is exposed to dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella or Staphylococcus. To avoid consuming tainted meat, you need to know how to check the freshness of hamburger meat without tasting it.
Examine the hamburger meat packaging to find the "sell by" date. This retailer-set date tells the consumer when he should throw the package away. If the current date is past the "sell-by" date, consider the meat to be bad.
Open the packaging of the hamburger meat using a knife blade. Cut along the edge of the packaging, piercing the plastic cling. Sniff the hamburger meat. If the meat smells sour or rotten, it is bad.
Look at the color of the hamburger meat. If the meat's color has changed from red and pink to entirely white, gray, or brown, the meat has gone bad.