Who doesn’t love good meat? However, that doesn’t apply to rotten meat that can spell disaster in your body. Rotten meat can lead to food poisoning, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramping, fever, diarrhea, and other severe symptoms. The only way to prevent that is by making sure your raw meat is not bad and keeping it fresh. So, how can you tell if raw chicken is bad?
We’ll share some tips how to tell if raw chicken is bad, and how to keep it fresh. Nothing ruins a meal like your main ingredient being expired. It’s a waste of time and effort if you realize your chicken is rotten after you’ve cooked it.
How to spot rotten raw chicken
Here are some tips to tell if the raw chicken is bad:
- Check the expiration date and the “best by” date. These dates are always on the product, certified by law and trustworthy. When you buy the chicken, if the expiration date is in the far future, it means your chicken has not gone bad yet.
- Check the color. Raw chicken should be pink, a color that is safe for consumption. If you notice any gray coloring, stay away from the chicken. Gray coloring is a sign the chicken has gone bad.
- Smell your chicken. Smell is the best way to tell if raw chicken is bad. Rotten chicken usually has a strong odor. When the chicken is good, it will have a light chicken odor. Some people describe the potent odor of rotten chicken as a “sour smell.” Others link it to the scent of ammonia. In any case, if there is an unpleasant odor, stay away from the chicken.
- Check if the chicken is slimy by touching it. Raw chicken should not be slimy or sticky. If it feels slippery, stay away from it. Stay away from raw chicken if there is some sort of mucus oozing from it as well.
Remember, raw chicken doesn’t have a long shelf life. Quite the contrary: its shelf life is very limited. In the fridge, raw chicken can be stored for just one to three days.
What about frozen chicken?
One way to preserve raw chicken for longer periods is to freeze it. However, when you buy frozen chicken, or defrost your chicken, it’s important to see if the chicken is still good. Here are some tips to check it:
- Look for an ice crust. A thick layer of ice means the chicken is no longer good. If frozen properly, raw chicken should not have a thick crust.
- Look for freezer burn. If the ice on your chicken is white, it’s an issue of freezer burn. It looks like a white rash or mark on the chicken. Freezer burn will not hurt you, but it will make the chicken less enjoyable.
- Check the color of the chicken. Frozen chicken is not as easy to check as raw chicken. However, look for the same gray marks. Another mark to look for is yellowing of the fat on the chicken. Now, if you get to a point where the color is darker than gray, throw the chicken in the trash bin.
Check cooked chicken
I’ve told you how to tell if raw chicken is bad. But what about cooked chicken? What happens if you didn’t check the chicken, you cooked it, and now you want to know if it’s good to go? Well, there are signs you should look for. You can check these same signs in a restaurant. If a chicken in the restaurant has these signs, feel free to return it.
- Smell the chicken, as it has to be the same or similar smell as the one of raw chicken. Sometimes it might be challenging to distinguish the smell because of herbs and spices. However, the potent odor of bad chicken doesn’t go away.
- Look for mold, one of the most obvious signs of rotten cooked chicken. If green or black fuzz has begun to form on the chicken, don’t eat it.
- If possible, look for changes in color. If you started cooking the chicken and it was white, but went gray during the cooking process, throw it away.
- Last, but not least, taste the chicken before swallowing. If you are not sure whether the chicken is still good, take a bite. It’s a cautious move that will save you from throwing away perfectly good chicken. However, if it tastes off and seems little sour, spit it out and throw it away.
How long can raw chicken stay in the fridge?
Another popular question (besides how to tell if raw chicken is bad) is how long you can store raw chicken in the refrigerator. Well, the exact answer depends on your storage conditions. But there are some general rules and principles:
- For example, after you purchase the chicken, you can keep it in the fridge for 1 to 3 days. Even if the “sell by” date expires during the storage period, you can still consume the chicken. It will remain safe after the “sell by” date, provided you’ve stored it properly.
- The best way to store raw chicken is to not open the packaging. You will maximize the shelf life of the chicken by keeping it in the original packaging.
- If you leave raw chicken at room temperature, it will go bad after 2 hours. Bacteria grow at temperatures between 40o and 140o Fahrenheit.
- A popular way to extend the shelf life of raw chicken is to freeze it. When freezing raw chicken, place it in the freezer before the number of days shown for fridge storage has passed. Overwrap the original package to extend the shelf life in the freezer (you can wrap it with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper).
- When stored properly in the freezer, raw chicken can maintain its quality for 9 to 12 months. When you defrost it, use the chicken within the next one to two days. If the chicken has been thawed in cold water, it should be cooked immediately.
- Cooked chicken, on the other hand, can stay good in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or 4 months in the freezer.
- Last, but not least, I want to stress this and make it perfectly clear: You can never save a rotten chicken. If the chicken has gone bad, you cannot save it by cooking it again or freezing it. Once the chicken has gone bad, there is no going back. Bacteria form on the rotten chicken that can make you very sick. Avoid rotten chicken at all costs.