Perchance the most common and honestly the most versatile ingredient in your fridge is your chicken meat. I honestly couldn’t fathom not eating a chicken at least once a week—I mean unless you’re a vegan.
Chicken meat really does come at an affordable price, hence I’m not going to blame you if you’re buying bulks. Also, this flightless bird meat is easy to cook and has thousands of ways on how to season, hence, it is undeniably an ingredient must-have.
But let’s face it, this sometimes happens to all of us: buying chicken, storing them for days because the days get the best of us and we don’t have any intentions of cooking it or worst-case scenario, we actually forgot that we have it in our fridge.
So, when you store your chicken and once you see it after cleaning your fridge, you’d often ask yourself: is this still okay? I mean after all, how long does raw chicken really last in the fridge?
How Long Does Raw Chicken Really Last In The Fridge?
It is no doubt that we want the best for our families (and of course, for ourselves). Hence, we make sure that we always serve the best and fresh chicken.
A chicken that’s not fresh can really affect the whole recipe. Also, you will absolutely have a different chicken-eating experience with that old, not-so-fresh chicken wing.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States of America, raw chicken should be stored for no longer than one to two days in the refrigerator. So, you can’t really bargain and reason out that “it’s in the fridge so it surely must still be okay.”
The raw chicken, regardless if whole or chopped into parts, must comply with this rule. So, if you’re saying that the chicken thighs are okay because they’re big, I’m sorry but it just doesn’t work that way, honey.
It may sound like this window time is way too small—trust me, it is annoying for me too. But, this is what the FDA considers as a short time but certainly a safe time limit to avoid any unfortunate events.
Unfortunate events include food poisoning. Who would want to eat a spoilt raw chicken, right?
FDA creates this rule with an assumption of your fridge’s temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or below). This is estimating to 4.44 degrees Celsius (or above).
If you’re freezing your raw chicken, however, it can be a whole lot different story. By freezing I mean, you’re storing your raw chicken in your freezer instead of the fridge with a less cold temperature.
Your freezer is, of course, colder than your fridge. Hence, if your raw chicken is stored at zero degrees Fahrenheit (or below) or approximately -17 degrees Celsius, then you can expect for your raw chicken to last longer.
If your raw chicken is whole and you’ve decided to store it in a freezer that complies with the aforementioned temperature, then you can expect it to last for about a year. On the other hand, chopped raw chicken can last for 9 months.
If you’ve decided to store your cooked chicken in your fridge, then it’s most likely to last a bit longer for about three or four days. You can freeze cooked chicken too, however, they may not last that long.
What Is The “Sell By” Stamps For Then?
Since the one to two days rule by the FDA is just a window time, you should always rely on your best judgment. You can obviously see if it’s gone past its freshness and prime goodness.
The “sell by” stamps on your chicken packaging may be deceiving for some. This isn’t something to be followed, really, because this isn’t made for you, but for the seller.
The “sell by” stamps, moreover, aren’t also following an exact science computation that considers the time bought and the time of storage. Hence, this is obviously and completely for the sellers or shops.
These stamps, however, are still helpful when you’re buying—don’t get me wrong. This is a good way to know if the raw chicken is still at its desired quality and flavor.
So, if you saw that the “sell by” stamp is dated a week before your purchase, then perhaps you got the last stock of the old batch of chicken deliveries. So, start checking it!
How Would I Know If My Chicken Is Spoiled?
If you’re only beginning to be a home chef and you still have the best judgment for your raw chickens, then read on and learn more about how to assess your chickens. After all, you can’t rely on the date stamped on the packaging.
By the date stamped, I mean “sell by” dates. However, dates that are named as “best by,” they’re more often than not helpful.
Best by date stamps don’t necessarily mean that they’re spoiled. But, just like what the word says, it is no longer the best, thus consuming it before the best by date is highly recommended.
You can use the best by date stamps as an indicator. If it’s past the best by date, then you surely have to start looking for the molds and other signs that your chicken has spoiled.
Your raw chicken has a pink and fleshy color in its prime. More often than not, like what I’ve said, they’re still consumable even beyond the date stated.
So, if you can see that the color is starting to look duller, then this is your sign to cook it as soon as possible. And if you’re still going to wait for a few more days, then you can bid this chicken its final goodbye.
But the question still stands: how would I really know if my raw chicken is spiled? Worry not, I got you.
Open your fridge and look at your raw chicken resting inside, what do you notice first? Right, it’s the color. You first have to look at the color of the chicken before anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, a change in color could be totally normal because of the temperature. However, if you see fading or darkening, then that’s no longer normal and you can take that as a sign.
More often than not its color has a grayish hue. So regardless if you’re only beginning to cook and have no idea what spoiled looks like, it will be just really obvious that it’s not the normal chicken that you can cook.
There are raw chickens that do not give off that grayish hue. However, you may see spots of grayish-green mold on your chicken. This signifies bacterial growth, hence, it is definitely something to be discarded.
Still not sure if your chicken is good to go? Then, smell it. I dare you—smell it.
A spoiled raw chicken leaves a foul and pungent smell that you just want to throw it away. For some, it may have a resemblance to the smell of ammonia or anything acidic.
Now that we have ticked the change in color and smell off of our list, then you’re sure that this is good to discard. But, if you’re still not sure and you want that third assurance, then you should touch it.
A slimy texture is a giveaway that your raw chicken has gone bad. And no, you can’t and will never be able to remedy this so just throw it away!
If you’re planning to wash this and rinse off the bacteria, then you’re actually doing more harm to your kitchen than good. This will definitely not kill the bacteria.
What this action will do is that it will spread the bacteria around your kitchen. This can actually lead to cross-contamination, which can affect your foods, utensils, and surfaces. Also, cleaning it won’t give you a green light that you can cook and eat it safely.
If you suspect and your suspicions are correct that your raw chicken has already gone bad, then it’s time to let go. It’s not really worth fighting for.
Chicken is the staple ingredient of every household and I really can’t think of any chicken recipe that isn’t exactly the best. The chicken is just really the hallelujah of our weekly meals.
Despite its goodness and affordable price, it’s still undoubtedly true that they can get bad easily and they only have a short storage span. Hence, you should always watch out for the chicken resting peacefully in your fridge.
The chicken can go beyond its one to two days window time and still be good to it. Your best judgment is still something that must be used since the dates are not absolute.
Despite using your best judgment, always remember that you can no longer salvage a bad raw chicken. So, if you feel like you have to throw it away, then, I beg of you, please do. After all, you can’t risk your health for a bad flightless bird.