The consumption of raw chicken can lead to food poisoning from harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Therefore, it is essential to know how long raw chicken can be safely stored and consumed to avoid foodborne illnesses. This article will guide you through everything you need to know about raw chicken’s shelf life and safe consumption practices.
Factors that Affect Raw Chicken’s Shelf Life
Raw chicken’s shelf life is the duration for which it can remain in good condition without spoiling. Several factors can affect its shelf life. These include:
- Storage conditions
- Quality of the chicken
The temperature at which you store raw chicken is a significant factor that affects its shelf life. If chicken is stored at temperatures above 40°F, harmful bacteria can grow and multiply, leading to spoilage and foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is crucial to keep raw chicken refrigerated at or below 40°F.
Storage conditions, such as air circulation and humidity levels, also affect raw chicken’s shelf life. Storing chicken in unsealed containers or in damp environments can lead to spoilage and bacterial growth.
The packaging also plays a significant role in determining raw chicken’s shelf life. Vacuum-sealed packaging prolongs the shelf life of raw chicken compared to chicken displayed on open trays or those packed in boxes.
Last but not least, the quality of the chicken itself is an essential factor in determining its shelf life. A fresher chicken is likely to have a longer shelf life than a chicken that has been stored for an extended period.
The Shelf Life of Raw Chicken
The shelf life of raw chicken depends on how it is stored. Here are guidelines on how long different types of raw chicken can last:
Raw chicken that is refrigerated can last for up to two days, while cooked chicken can last up to four days. If the chicken has been cut up, it should be used within a day or two to avoid spoilage.
Raw chicken that is frozen can last up to nine months when stored at 0°F. However, for best quality, it is recommended to consume it within six months.
Tips to Ensure Safe Consumption of Raw Chicken
Here are some tips to ensure that you consume raw chicken safely:
Check the Date
Before purchasing raw chicken, check the sell-by date to ensure that it has not expired. If you purchase chicken close to the sell-by date, consume it within a day or two.
Safe Handling Procedures
When handling raw chicken, follow safe handling procedures such as washing your hands and utensils with hot soapy water after coming into contact with raw chicken. Avoid cross-contamination by separating raw chicken from other foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
Cook Chicken to the Appropriate Temperature
Ensure that you cook raw chicken to the appropriate temperature to kill all harmful bacteria. The USDA recommends cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Reheat Leftover Chicken Thoroughly
When reheating leftover chicken, ensure that it is heated to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any harmful bacteria that may have grown during storage.
Raw chicken’s shelf life depends on several factors such as temperature, storage conditions, packaging, and the chicken’s quality. To ensure that you consume raw chicken safely, handle it properly, cook it to the appropriate temperature, and reheat leftovers thoroughly. By following these guidelines, you can safely enjoy your raw chicken without risking foodborne illnesses.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Food Safety and Chicken. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/food-safety-and-chicken.html
- United States Department of Agriculture. (2021). 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
Here are some common questions related to the topic ‘How long is raw chicken good for?’ along with their answers:
- Q: How can I tell if raw chicken has gone bad?
- A: Raw chicken that has gone bad may have a sour smell, a slimy texture, or a grayish color.
- Q: Can I eat raw chicken if I freeze it first?
- A: No, freezing raw chicken does not kill harmful bacteria. Therefore, it is still not safe to consume raw chicken even if it has been frozen first.
- Q: How long can I leave raw chicken out before it spoils?
- A: Raw chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours to avoid bacterial growth.
- Q: How can I properly store raw chicken in the refrigerator?
- A: You should store raw chicken in its original packaging or in a resealable container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. It should be consumed within two days.
- Q: Can I eat chicken if it has a pink color after cooking?
- A: No, chicken should not have any pink color after cooking. It should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure that all harmful bacteria have been killed.