Signs of Bad Chicken

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Consuming spoiled chicken is a potentially dangerous move. A person is at risk of becoming seriously ill from bacteria like salmonella found in chicken that has gone bad. Bacteria in good chicken will be killed by thoroughly cooking the chicken, but other types will remain even after cooking. The bacteria in good chicken are harmless as long as the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Here are the warning signs to look for in identifying a chicken that has gone bad.

Expiration Date

Always check the expiration date of the chicken before prior to purchase. Check the expiration date again before you cook the chicken. The chicken may also go bad before the expiration date, so look out for additional signs of bad chicken.

Colour Change

Watch out for significant changes in the chicken's colour. If the chicken becomes darker than when purchase, toss. The same may be true if the chicken suddenly becomes lighter than it was at purchase. Signs of mould spots should serve as an obvious deterrent.


Spoiled meat tends to have a bad smell. If the chicken smells like yeast or simply smells rotten or decayed, then it has most likely gone bad. Also, watch out for a smell similar to the scent of ammonia. Good chicken will not stink, so don't shrug off any of these bad smells just because the expiration date might lead you to believe that the chicken is still safe to eat.

Slimy Surface

If you touch the chicken and notice that it feels slimy, then the chicken has most likely expired. If the chicken does happen to be slimy, then the slimy feeling will be accompanied by a stench. It might also feel sticky.


When purchasing chicken, if you're not sure about the appearance or the smell of the chicken, show it to a professional within the store. Stores are very meticulous about taking expired chicken off the shelves, but it is possible for them to accidentally leave some behind. In addition to making sure the chicken has not gone bad, also check for ice and feathers. If the chicken has been overly frozen, then it will have lost much of its protein, natural juices and tenderness. If feathers or hairs can be spotted on the surface of the chicken, then this may indicate that it wasn't thoroughly cleaned before being packaged. When handling raw meat, separate it from other foods to avoid transferring bacteria. Thoroughly wash all dishes that come in contact with the raw meat, including cutting boards and utensils. Also, thoroughly wash each hand after touching raw meat. Carefully prepare the meat, using a thermometer to measure its internal temperature.

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