How to know when chicken has gone bad

Written by anne baley
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How to know when chicken has gone bad
Never take chances with raw chicken. (Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

While most cooks are familiar with cooking chicken in one form or another, many may not be aware of the dangers of keeping raw chicken in the refrigerator too long. Chicken is one of the foods most easily contaminated with salmonella, and improper packaging or storage can increase the chances of the chicken going bad. Pay close attention to any signs of spoilage, and throw away any chicken pieces you have doubts about.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Check the chicken package for an expiration date. If you bought the chicken at a grocery store and have not frozen it, the date should be valid. If the chicken is past the expiration date, even if there are no obvious signs of spoilage, throw it away.

  2. 2

    Remove any raw chicken that has been in your refrigerator for more than two days. If you have chicken that you need to store for longer than two days, freeze it right away and use it later, after you thaw it out. Chicken refrigerated longer than two days is likely spoiled or close to it, and should be discarded.

  3. 3

    Feel the surface of the chicken meat. If you feel any dried-out portions or sliminess, the chicken is bad. Throw it away and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

  4. 4

    Smell the chicken. Sometimes chicken will go bad before its expiration date because of the way it was handled at the store. Any raw chicken with a bad smell is suspect. Throw it away.

  5. 5

    Look at the chicken. Bad chicken will develop a green tint, especially in the joints between the leg and thigh and between the breast and wing. Throw away any greenish chicken that you find.

Tips and warnings

  • If there is any doubt about the chicken, discard it and wash your hands thoroughly.

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