So, you just found that there is like a pound of raw chicken in the fridge for seven days. Is it still safe to cook and eat it?
The USDA recommends that you only store raw chicken in the fridge for two days. This is regardless if it is whole or cut into pieces. For frozen chicken, the timer starts once you fully thaw the meat.
Read on to learn more about raw chicken in the fridge for seven days. You will know if it is still safe to eat, and if it is, how should you cook it.
Is It Safe to Eat Raw Chicken in Fridge for 7 Days?
It happens to everyone. You bought a lot of chicken, intending to cook it all for the entire week. However, life got in the way, and you forgot about the chicken in the fridge.
Now, you don’t want to waste it, but on the other hand, you don’t want food poisoning as well. The question now is it still okay to eat?
If you ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration, you should throw out that chicken. It does not matter if the chicken is whole or cut into serving pieces. You should not store it in the fridge for more than two days.
Why You Should Not Store Raw Chicken in the Fridge for Two Days and More?
Here are the things that may happen if you store raw chicken in your fridge for over two days. You should not let the storage in the fridge go beyond that period because of such effects:
Raw Chicken in Fridge for Three Days
Have you forgotten that package of raw chicken in your fridge for three days? Then it will be a bit of a coin toss if it is still safe or not.
By the end of the second day, pathogens will start to grow on the surface of the chicken already. It is still a bit too early, though, for any bacteria to change the smell and appearance of the chicken.
This means that the chicken might not smell or look different. Despite that, there are still harmful bacteria on the surface of the meat.
However, if your fridge is cold enough, the low temperature might have slowed down the growth of bacteria. The chicken should still be good to eat, provided that you cook it thoroughly.
Raw Chicken in Fridge for Four Days
What will happen if you have stored the raw chicken in the fridge for four days? Then the chances are that the bacteria have already had enough time to grow.
The bacteria might still not be able to alter the smell of the meat. However, some slime might be on the surface now that it has stayed too long without freezing.
Is it still safe to eat? Probably but only if you cook it thoroughly. However, observe if the first bite seems to taste a bit off. In that case, it might be best to throw the rest of it into the trash. Do not even think of feeding it to your dog or cat. They can suffer from food poisoning too.
Raw Chicken in the Fridge for Seven Days
If the chicken has been in the fridge for seven days, it will show all the telltale signs of spoilage. You can most likely tell that the chicken is not safe by this time.
Even if you have sealed raw chicken in the fridge for seven days, this is true. It will still most likely have spoiled, and no amount of cooking can save you from food poisoning.
It is important to label your meats when you bring them home. By doing that, you can keep track of how long it has been sitting in your fridge.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Stay in the Fridge?
Now, you might be thinking, what about cooked chicken? Can you keep it in the fridge longer? Well, the FDA and USDA say yes. You can keep cooked chicken in the fridge longer than raw, but not by much.
According to the health experts, you can only keep cooked chicken in the fridge for up to four days. After that, it will start to spoil.
Even if you carefully seal and store cooked chicken, bacteria will still grow on it after a while. Of course, this is unless you put it in the freezer.
If you plan to cook a large batch of food, transfer them into individual plastic containers. Place them in the freezer afterward. This will allow the food to last longer. Before serving, heat the chicken on the stove until it hits the recommended serving temperature.
How to Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad
You still have to check the chicken in your freezer now and then, whether raw or cooked. The reason is that even if it has been chilling in the fridge, there is still a risk of spoilage.
Bacteria can still survive even when you put them in freezing temperatures, but they will not multiply. The average temperature of a household fridge is 40°F (4°C), so harmful bacteria can still thrive.
In other words, although the temperature inside your fridge is low, it is not enough to stop bacteria growth. It will only slow it down a little bit. You can only store raw chicken in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Now, how can you tell if it has indeed gone bad? Here are some ways to identify spoiled chicken, both raw and cooked:
1. Check the Expiration Date
Label Any Meat You Purchase Before Tossing Them Into the Fridge
It is essential to label any meat you purchase before tossing them into the fridge. This will tell you exactly how long it has been since you bought it.
Check the Dates Printed on the Packaged Chicken
The expiration date is the first thing to check, especially in unopened raw chicken in the fridge for seven days (or less). You will notice that most packaged chicken has two dates printed on it. These are the packaged date and best by date.
The packaged date was the date when the meatpacking plant processed it. This date is for the retailers who need to keep track of their inventory.
Cook the Chicken on or Before the “Best By” Date
The date that should concern you is the “best by” date. This is the latest date that the manufacturer can guarantee the freshness of the meat. Cook the chicken on or before the best by date to ensure its peak quality.
Put the Chicken in the Freezer
If you plan to cook the chicken immediately or the following day, buy chickens close to their expiration date. You’ll be getting a great deal if you do. On the other hand, if you won’t cook the chicken immediately, put it in the freezer instead of the fridge.
Also, during your grocery trips, make it a point to get the meats at the end. This will somehow minimize the time the meats stay in the “danger zone.” Once you get home, stick the meats into the freezer immediately.
Meat Stored in the Freezer Can Last for More Than Nine Months
If kept in the freezer, chicken and other meats can last for more than nine months. Just make sure that they come sealed in an airtight plastic bag or container.
2. Check the Raw and Cooked Chicken’s Appearance
You can tell if chicken, raw or cooked, has gone bad just by looking at it. If you can see the visual cues of spoilage, the chicken has already gone way past its expiration date.
Here are some guidelines based on whether you have raw or cooked chicken:
Fresh chicken should be slightly pink with a couple of white fatty pieces. It is still good if the fat pieces have gone yellow, but the meat is still pink. There are times when a corn-fed chicken gets yellow fat.
What if the fat pieces are yellow and the meat is gray? Then you can be sure that you already have spoiled chicken. If you can see these signs, you do not need to check for the others. Throw the chicken into the trash immediately.
On the other hand, a slight discoloration is not enough to tell if the chicken has gone bad. A bit of darkening or fading of the color is perfectly fine. It is just the result of the oxidization of the red protein in the blood.
Note that a bit of darkening or lightening of the meat is not a sign of spoilage. It just means that the chicken is bad and not fresh anymore.
Another visual sign of spoilage is mold growth. This is even if you see that the other parts of the chicken do not have any discoloration.
The fact that mold has grown on one part is proof enough that the remaining chicken is no longer edible. Meats are not like cheese. You cannot just cut off the parts with mold.
Again, can raw chicken last seven days in the fridge? The USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not recommend storing raw chicken in the fridge for more than one to two days.
The longest you should be keeping leftover cooked chicken in the fridge is three days. Also, you should put the leftover chicken into the fridge as soon as you can. The reason is that it can quickly spoil if left at room temperature for a couple of hours.
The danger zone for cooked chicken is anywhere between 40°F (4°C) to 140°F (60°C). At this temperature, bacteria can multiply exponentially. This can significantly increase the risks of food poisoning.
What if the cooked chicken has been in the fridge for two days or less but still has significant discoloration? Then it is also an indication it has already spoiled. This goes the same if you notice mold growth on the dish.
It can be quite difficult to spot mold on cooked chicken, especially if there is a sauce and other condiments. This makes it necessary to check it carefully.
Meanwhile, if the chicken is still good, reheat it in the microwave to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This will ensure the obliteration of any bacteria in the chicken.
3. Presence of Odd Smell
Another telltale sign that chicken has gone bad is if it has a foul smell, pun not intended. If you take a whiff of the chicken and smell anything at all, it might already be spoiled.
Fresh chicken has a mild smell, if anything at all. If you can easily smell something off in the chicken, you should trust your nose and throw it out. It is already way past its expiration date if you get a sour or sulfur-like smell from your raw chicken.
However, if the smell is quite faint and you cannot figure it out, look for other signs of spoilage. People’s sense of smell varies.
This means not everyone can notice the faint smells of spoilage, especially in cooked chicken. Have someone else take a whiff of the chicken and get their opinion.
4. Check Its Texture
If you cannot find any visual or olfactory signs of spoilage, you can touch the raw chicken. You can do that to figure out if it is still good.
Fresh chicken has a smooth and soft texture. If the chicken feels slimy or sticky, take that as a clear sign that it has already started to go bad. The slimier the chicken, the more spoiled it has gotten.
On the other hand, cooked chicken is firmer and drier than raw chicken. However, if you notice that the chicken has gotten softer than usual, it may have already gone bad. This is true if it has developed a slimy and sticky film on the surface.
Should You Wash Raw Chicken?
Some people think that they need to wash chicken before cooking. However, not only is it unnecessary but also more hazardous.
Here are three reasons why you should not wash chicken, or any meat for that matter, before cooking:
1. Washing Does Not Get Rid of the Bacteria
Rinsing raw chicken under running water does nothing to remove the bacteria on the surface. Yes, the water will wash off some bacteria, but most of them will still stay on the meat. The only way to get rid of the harmful bacteria is to cook the chicken to the recommended temperature.
2. May Spread the Bacteria Even More
When you rinse chicken under the tap, you cannot prevent the water droplets from splashing about. These droplets now have harmful bacteria, thanks to being in contact with the raw chicken. They may land on your other utensils and all over your kitchen counter.
3. No Need
The chickens that you can buy from the supermarket were already cleaned and washed before getting there. In addition, you can find the preparation instructions printed on the packaging of the chickens. Nowhere in there are you instructed to wash the chicken before cooking.
So, how do you prepare the chicken? According to the experts, it is perfectly fine to pat the chicken dry using paper towels. Removing the excess juices from the poultry will also lessen the number of bacteria.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Kinds of Bacteria Are Present in Raw Chicken?
Raw and undercooked poultry usually contains Campylobacter, which is harmful by itself. However, raw chicken typically has more than one bacteria strain.
Sometimes, it can contain Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Yersinia. There are also times when it contains E. coli. All these bacteria strains can cause serious food poisoning.
What Temperature Should You Cook Chicken?
The only way to make chicken safe to consume is to cook it completely. You should not cook chicken rare or even medium. Cook all chicken cuts entirely through. The meat should have an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C).
If you don’t want your chicken to get too dry, use a meat thermometer. Insert it at the thickest part of the bird. This is to make sure that the internal temperature is just right. Do not just rely on outward appearance or if the chicken’s juices run clear or not.
Why Can’t You Eat Rare-Cooked Chicken?
Unlike beef, the bacteria in chicken meat can penetrate through the surface. You can sear the outside of a steak and leave the inside still blue. On the other hand, you should never eat chicken with pink meat inside.
However, some experts claim that free-range chickens don’t have as many bacteria as those raised in cages. Still, to be safe, you should always cook your chicken until well done.
Conclusion – Raw Chicken in Fridge for 7 Days
According to the USDA, you can only store raw chicken in the fridge for two days. If the chicken were frozen prior, the timer would start as soon as you thaw it.
You can only store the raw chicken for a couple of days in the fridge. It can last considerably longer when placed in the freezer.
If prepared and sealed properly, you can store raw chicken in the freezer for nine months. If you plan to save the chicken for cooking later, place it in the freezer instead of the fridge.