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How To Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad

Unsure about the chicken in the fridge or freezer? Find out 4 ways to make sure it’s fresh!

Milk, bread, fruits, veggies, and other food items are easy to tell if they’ve gone bad. Milk smells awful once it’s spoiled, bread is either stale or moldy, and fruits and veggies get mushy and often smell bad as well.

Some things, however, take a bit more detective work. This is especially true for food items like chicken, that are often stored in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. The “best by” date doesn’t often apply in these cases, so what happens if you leave the chicken to thaw in the fridge and then forget about it? Let’s see a few different ways you can check and make sure your poultry is safe to eat!

1. Two-Day Rule

Wikimedia

The best way to know if your chicken is safe to eat is to keep track of how long it’s been in the fridge. According to the USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, raw chicken should be stored for no longer than one to two days in the refrigerator. If the chicken was previously frozen, this timeline goes into effect after the meat is fully defrosted.

2. Coloring

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If you’ve found yourself in a defrosted-and-forgotten-in-the-fridge situation, never fear! It’s worth a check to see if it’s still usable. No one wants to waste food, right?

Start with some visual cues. Is the chicken still nice and pink? According to The Kitchn, “As chicken spoils, its coloring fades from pink to dull gray. If the chicken has a grayish hue, it’s best not to use it.”

3. The Sniff Test

Public Domain

Still can’t quite decide if your chicken is good or bad? It’s time to pull out the old reliable sniff test. Not the most appetizing option, but better than throwing out several pounds of meat, right?

Raw chicken does have a bit of a natural smell, but it shouldn’t be pungent or noticeably foul. Another indicator might be a slightly sour smell, like spoiled milk.

4. Feel The Chicken

PxFuel

Yes, as unpleasant as handling raw chicken is, it’s another great way to make sure it’s still good to use. And hey, you’ll probably be handling it anyway if you decide to cook with it, so why not go ahead and dive right in?

Raw chicken is naturally glossy and has a slightly slippery texture. However, if it feels like there’s an additional layer of something over the chicken that feels especially sticky and thick, it’s best not to use the chicken.

When in doubt, go ahead and toss the chicken. While I don’t like wasting food, I’d say getting food poisoning is much worse!