Are you wondering how long you can keep chicken in the fridge after it has been thawed? It’s a question that every home cook should know the answer to. This article will go over the best practices for safely storing and using chicken that has been thawed, as well as how long you can keep it in the fridge. Let’s get started!
Why is Proper Chicken Storage Important?
When it comes to chicken, proper storage is critical. Raw chicken can harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter that can cause foodborne illnesses if not handled and cooked properly. These bacteria can cause symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and vomiting, which can be especially dangerous for young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
Proper storage can help prevent the growth of these harmful bacteria and keep you and your family safe. When storing chicken, it’s important to follow these guidelines:
Store in Original Packaging
If the chicken is still in its original packaging and has not been opened, it’s safe to store it in the fridge for a short period of time. The packaging is designed to protect the chicken from contaminants and prevent the spread of bacteria. It’s always a good idea to check the label for any specific storage instructions.
Use Air-Tight Containers
If the chicken has been opened and removed from its original packaging, it should be stored in an airtight container. This will prevent the chicken from absorbing any strong odors or flavors from other foods in the fridge. It also helps to keep the chicken fresher for longer.
Store on the Bottom Shelf
Raw chicken should always be stored on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This is to prevent any juices from dripping onto other foods and potentially contaminating them. It’s a good idea to place the chicken in a dish or container to catch any drips.
Ensure Proper Temperature
Chicken should be stored at a temperature below 40°F to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. It’s important to check the temperature of your fridge with a thermometer to ensure it’s at the proper temperature. If the temperature is too high, the chicken may spoil more quickly or become unsafe to eat.
How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay in the Fridge?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of chicken storage, let’s talk about how long thawed chicken can stay in the fridge. The amount of time that chicken can be safely stored in the fridge after thawing depends on a few factors, including the temperature of the fridge, the method used to thaw the chicken, and whether or not the chicken has been cooked.
If you’ve thawed the chicken in the fridge, it can be safely stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before it needs to be cooked. This is assuming that the fridge is set to the proper temperature and that the chicken has been stored properly. If the chicken has been cooked, it can be safely stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Thawing chicken on the counter is not recommended, as it can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria. If you’ve thawed chicken on the counter, it should be cooked immediately and not stored in the fridge.
If you’ve thawed chicken in the microwave, it should be cooked immediately after thawing. If you’re unable to cook the chicken right away, it should be stored in the fridge and cooked within 1-2 days.
How Can You Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad?
Even with proper storage, chicken can still spoil and become unsafe to eat. Here are some signs that your chicken may have gone bad:
One of the easiest ways to tell if chicken has gone bad is by its smell. Spoiled chicken will have a strong, unpleasant odor that is easy to recognize.
Spoiled chicken may feel slimy or sticky to the touch. It may also feel more slippery than fresh chicken.
Fresh chicken should be pink in color. If the chicken has a grayish tint or if the color has changed significantly, it may be spoiled.
Tips for Properly Storing and Using Chicken
Here are some additional tips to help you safely store and use chicken:
Use a Meat Thermometer
When cooking chicken, always use a meat thermometer to ensure it has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. This will help ensure that any harmful bacteria have been destroyed.
When handling raw chicken, it’s important to avoid cross-contamination with other foods. This means washing your hands and any utensils or surfaces that come into contact with the chicken.
Follow Safe Cooking Practices
When cooking chicken, it’s important to follow safe cooking practices to avoid foodborne illness. This means cooking chicken to the proper temperature and not letting cooked chicken sit out at room temperature for too long.
Don’t Refreeze Thawed Chicken
Once chicken has been thawed, it should be cooked and not refrozen. Refreezing thawed chicken can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and increase the risk of foodborne illness.
Proper storage and handling of chicken is critical for ensuring the safety and quality of the food you eat. Remember to store chicken in the fridge at a proper temperature, use airtight containers, and avoid cross-contamination with other foods. With these tips in mind, you can safely store and use chicken that has been thawed in the fridge.
- How long can thawed chicken stay in the fridge? Thawed chicken can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before it needs to be cooked.
- Can you put thawed chicken back in the freezer? No, once chicken has been thawed it should not be refrozen.
- What temperature should chicken be stored at in the fridge? Chicken should be stored at a temperature below 40°F.
- What are the signs that chicken has gone bad? Signs that chicken has gone bad include a strong odor, slimy or sticky texture, and a grayish color.
- How can you prevent cross-contamination when handling chicken? Wash your hands and any utensils or surfaces that come into contact with the chicken, and avoid touching other foods while handling chicken.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Chicken from Farm to Table. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/chicken-from-farm-to-table/CT_Index
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html