How to Tell if Chicken is Rotten

Harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, thrive in spoiled chicken. These bacteria cause food poisoning and can result in a serious illness. Before you prepare poultry, always examine it closely to ensure that it has not spoiled. While the expiration date can help you determine if the poultry remains viable, improper handling and storage can cause bacteria to grow. Knowing the signs of spoilage will protect you and your family from food poisoning.

Remove the chicken from the packaging. If you notice a foul or unpleasant odour, discard the poultry immediately. This smell indicates possible food spoilage.

Examine the chicken for changes in colour. While colour alone does not indicate food spoilage, a fading or darkening in colour means that you need to question the freshness of the poultry. If you notice an obvious colour change, discard the chicken.

Touch the poultry with your fingers. If the poultry feels tacky, sticky or slimy, it needs to be discarded because these characteristics indicate food spoilage.


Store chicken in the freezer if you do not plan to use it within two days after purchase.


If the chicken has an odd flavour, discard the chicken immediately. Wash your hands immediately after handling the raw chicken to prevent spreading harmful bacteria around your home.

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About the Author

Angela LaFollette holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising with a minor in political science from Marshall University. LaFollette found her passion for writing during an internship as a reporter for "The West Virginia Standard" in 2007. She has more than six years of writing experience and specializes in topics in garden and pets.