For How Long Can I Store Chicken in the Fridge?

It is common to store chicken in the fridge. Yes! Most people do it, afterall, it is an animal product and needs to be preserved.

Chicken is a very common source of animal protein. Most households consume it as a staple – both in developed and developing nations of the world.

As healthy and as nutritious as chicken is, the risk of it getting contaminated with bacteria is very high. That is why you must take great care when preparing, cooking and storing it. If you fail to do so, then this great source of protein may become a source of foodborne disease.

Chicken can conveniently be stored in the fridge. The question is… for how long can chicken be stored in the fridge?

This article will examine this subject critically and of course, give an answer to this question.

store chicken in the fridge
Photo Credit: PEIMAG

HOW LONG DOES CHICKEN LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

A study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown that raw chicken can be conveniently preserved in the fridge for a day or two. The same applies to other poultry including turkey (1).

Cooked chicken on the other hand, can last for 3-4 days in your fridge (1).

When you store chicken in the fridge, bacterial growth is impeded. The reason for this is obvious. Bacteria grow very slowly in temperatures below 40℉ (4°C) (2, 3).

Also, when storing raw chicken, do it in a container that is leak-proof. By so doing, you can stop the juices from leaking off and contaminating other produce in your fridge. When refrigerating cooked chicken, be sure to do it in an airtight container (4).

If you intend preserving your chicken for more than a week, then your best bet would be a freezer.

Pieces of raw chicken can be frozen and stored in a freezer for up to nine months. A whole chicken on the other hand, can be stored for up to a year in a freezer. Cooked chicken can be frozen for 2-6 months (1, 2).

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHICKEN HAS GONE BAD?

If you have store chicken in the fridge for more than a week, then there is the possibility of it going bad.

Here are some ways to tell if your chicken is spoilt (5, 6, 7):

  • The “best by” date has been exceeded. There is a high chance of your chicken going bad if it has been preserved beyond the best-by date.
  • Color changes. When chicken (whether cooked or raw) begins to turn gray, then there is a chance that it has gone bad. You can spot bacterial growth by examining the body of the chicken. If it has gone bad, you will notice spots of gray-green cold.
  • An Acidic Smell. Chicken that has gone bad will emit an odor like that of ammonia. However, it is usually very hard to detect this smell in marinated chicken (one that has been marinated with herbs, spices, and sauces).
  • Texture. A spoilt chicken usually has a slimy texture. And even if you rinse the chicken, it will not help. Rather, you may unwittingly spread the bacteria to other foods, surfaces, and utensils, resulting in what is known as cross-contamination.

If you feel that your frozen chicken has gone bad, simply throw it away.

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH RISKS OF SPOILT CHICKEN?

When you eat spoilt chicken, you put your health at risk. Yes! Spoilt chicken causes food poisoning.

Chicken is easily contaminated with bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and more (7).

A thorough cooking of fresh chicken completely eliminates these bacteria.

That notwithstanding, you should do your best to avoid cooking spoilt chicken or even eating it. Yes! Cooking can kill the bacteria on the surface of the chicken, but what about the bacterial toxins inside? It will not be eliminated. It is these toxins that causes food poisoning if you eat the chicken (8).

Symptoms of food poisoning are usually uncomfortable and dangerous. They include fever (usually above 101.5℉ or 38.6℃), nausea, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and bloody stools (9).

Some cases of food poisoning may require hospitalization. Extreme cases leads to death (10, 11).

If you’ve got spoilt chicken in your fridge, simply discard it. Do not eat it.

THE SUMMARY

You can store raw chicken in the fridge for a day or two. Cooked chicken on the other hand lasts between 3 to 4 days.

Effective ways of detecting spoilt chicken is by looking for the best if used by date, or other obvious signs such as change in color, smell, and texture. Do not eat spoilt chicken. If you do, you put yourself at risk of food poisoning. The risk is high even if you cook it well.

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