Can’t remember how long ago you put those chicken breasts in the refrigerator? Attempting to figure out whether or not meat is still okay to eat can be confusing; you don’t want to take a risk, but you also don’t want to waste perfectly good meat. Rather than going back and forth, and potentially making the wrong choice, simply take the time to do a little investigating.
If you are wondering how to tell if your fowl has gone foul, continue reading to learn what you can do to make a safe judgement.
Consuming spoiled chicken can certainly be unpleasing to the palate, but more seriously, it can be detrimental to your health. For this reason, it is important to know the difference between “good” chicken and “bad” chicken.
The “sniff and stare” test is usually the go-to method of determining the quality of raw chicken. Many people assume they can tell if meat has gone bad by detecting changes in smell, texture, or color. However, this may not be the most accurate approach. Changes like these simply indicate that the meat is aging and losing quality. It is the internal, food-borne bacteria to watch out for, and these are not detectable with a “sniff and stare” test.
There are two primary types of food-borne bacteria; one type can make you sick, while the other simply spoils food. Spoilage bacteria will not necessarily give a person food poisoning, but it can cause a stomach ache or digestive issues. You can tell when raw meat has this form of bacteria brewing because it will look and feel slimy, and may have a white film. Eating it will not be a pleasant experience, but it will not send a person to the hospital either. In contrast, bacteria that makes a person sick is not visible to the naked eye, so you cannot tell if it is present in your chicken or not.
Avoiding a Food-borne Illness
The best way to avoid contracting a food-borne illness from such bacteria is to follow the recommended storing and cooking methods for all kinds of poultry, including turkey, duck, quail, and pigeon. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), it is important to always cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have raw chicken in your refrigerator for a few days, you can put it in your freezer to preserve its quality, so long as the freezer is set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Bacteria will not grow in the freezer under these conditions. After thawing your chicken, the USDA suggests cooking it within two days to remain safe. If you thaw out your chicken, but do not use all of it, you can re-freeze it again as long as it wasn’t cross-contaminated in any way. When it comes to any kind of raw meat, just remember:
When in doubt, toss it out!