Whether you commonly serve your family breakfast sausage links, or you purchased fresh sausages to throw on the grill, it’s easy to place these items in the fridge and then forget about them for a while, until the next time you are cleaning out your refrigerator. Before you think about cooking those sausages, it’s crucial to make sure that they have not gone bad and are safe to eat first.

Look at the sausage. Depending on the type of sausage you have, the sausage may look grayish in color if it is spoiled. There also may be a slimy coating over the sausage. Any mold is a definite sign of a bad sausage.

Smell the sausage. Bad sausage will have a sour smell to it that any meat that is not good starts to get. If the meat has any smell that is “off” to you, just get rid it.

Refer to the USDA food handling guidelines and look at the expiration dates for sausage unless you placed it in the freezer immediately after you purchased it. Raw fresh sausage should be eaten within one to two days of purchase, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Cooked and packaged sausages, such as breakfast patties and links, can be kept in the refrigerator for seven days. Frozen sausage can last about one to two months in the freezer. To avoid eating bad sausage, do not eat any sausage that has been in the fridge or freezer for longer than these recommended times.