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How to Tell if Chicken is Bad: Many home cooks choose chicken as their go-to protein, but if the chicken has been in the fridge for a few days, you might worry if it is still safe to eat. How can you know when chicken is bad?

Here are four things to look for if you’re unsure whether the raw chicken you bought has gone bad. White advises that cooking chicken to the recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees F is essential because some indicators of bacterial growth are imperceptible.

1. Check the Sell-By Date

Check the sell-by date on package labels; if it has passed, throw it away rather than taking a chance to consume it and become sick.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendations advise keeping raw chicken in the refrigerator for no more than one to two days, even though the sell-by date is only a general timeframe.

2. What the Chicken Smell Like

While substandard chicken will have a sour, pungent, or odd smell, rotten chicken won’t have a classic odor. According to White, some people have said it smells like rotten eggs or sulfur.

3. What the Chicken Looks Like

Chicken still fresh and raw is pink and meaty; chicken that has gone rotten is discolored and has a dull, grey hue.

According to White, “food spoilage signs are pretty much everywhere.” “Any foul odor, discoloration, or foreign substances on your chicken would be grounds for tossing.”

4. What the Chicken Feels Like

The chicken is probably terrible if it feels slimy, sticky, or has a filmy covering on top. The texture of raw, fresh chicken is glossy and silky.

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Risks of Eating Spoiled Chicken

Food poisoning, or a foodborne sickness, can be contracted by eating rotten chicken. Chicken may be contaminated with bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and more, increasing the risk of food poisoning.

These bacteria are typically destroyed when fresh chicken is completely cooked. Cooking and eating rotten chicken must still be avoided. 

While reheating or cooking can eradicate surface germs, it won’t eliminate some toxins that bacteria create, which might cause food poisoning if consumed.

High fevers (over 101.5°F or 38.6°C), chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and dehydration are among the painful and occasionally severe symptoms of food poisoning.

Severe food poisoning occasionally necessitates hospitalization and can potentially be fatal. Don’t consume your chicken if you think it might be ruined. It’s advisable always to throw away chicken you think has gone rotten.

How to Tell If Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad

Like when it’s raw, the smell, color, and texture of cooked chicken will let you know if it’s bad. When cooked chicken begins to spoil, it will look gray or greenish, become softer or slimmer, and have a rancid odor.

In addition to developing mold or white patches, cooked chicken can also go rancid, according to Katie Tomaschko, M.S., RDN.

Make careful to use any leftover cooked chicken before it must be thrown away because it only lasts three to four days in the refrigerator, just like raw chicken.

How Do You Store Chicken in the Fridge?

Your raw chicken should be refrigerated when you return to the store and cooked within two days. To prevent unintentional spillage of raw chicken juices onto your other food, store the meat on the lowest shelf or drawer of your refrigerator.

Ensure you have an airtight container on hand and a strategy before storing cooked chicken in the refrigerator.

“Once the chicken is fully cooked, keep it in the fridge for up to four days in a sealed container. When chopping, slicing, or shredding any remaining chicken breasts, Jessica Randhawa, owner and executive chef of The Forked Spoon, advises waiting until you’re ready to eat.

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How Do You Store Chicken in the Freezer?

You can easily store both cooked and raw chicken in the freezer. The majority of chicken marketed now comes packaged in plastic, which can lead to freezer burn.

Instead, put the raw chicken in freezer bags and squeeze as much air as possible before securing it. Even though the USDA claims it can last eternally if consistently frozen, if at all feasible, mark the date on it.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to finish your cooked chicken leftovers from the fridge, you may store them the same way—in a sealed freezer-safe bag with as little air as possible forced out of it. For simple meal preparation, try breaking it up into parts.

When it’s time to defrost your chicken, a few efficient methods—like putting it in the fridge or using a cold water bath—are safer than microwaving it or merely sitting it on your kitchen counter.

Bacteria can stick around on uncooked chicken if the thawing process takes too long. And follow these instructions if you need to refreeze your chicken properly.

Bottom Line

Actually, it’s not too difficult to determine whether your chicken is awful if it’s cooked or uncooked. Just give it a nice sniff, a decent touch, and a thorough inspection.

Throw it away if it smells rotten, is extremely slimy or slippery, abrasive, or otherwise discolored.

Dynamic Energy

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