Is it chicken for dinner again?
Maybe you’ve bought a load of chicken cuts on the latest shopping spree. Quite likely given that it is one of the most popular meats consumed by Americans, not to mention, in other countries.
Chicken is a great source of protein and other nutrients. This and the fact that it is one of the cheapest meats available makes it a wonderful and versatile food option.
And with your humble chicken being regularly turned into a baked, roasted, sauteed or fried dish, you have home cooks buying and handling it raw.
Which begs the question – how do you store all that chicken?
Do you keep raw chicken in the fridge, pack it in the freezer or simply leave it on the countertop for the evening meal?
If you are wondering whether raw chicken stays good in the fridge for 7 days, the answer I am afraid is NO!
Before we get into the nitty gritty of storing raw poultry, you ought to know the difference between fresh and frozen varieties.
Fresh poultry refers to raw meat that hasn’t been stored below 26°F(-3.3°C). Frozen chicken meat on the other hand, is stored at temperatures below zero degrees or 0°F (-17.7°C).
What happens when you store foods at room temperature or above 40°F (4.4°C)?
Risk of foodborne illnesses
You’ll find bacteria on uncooked and undercooked chicken, as with any perishable food, including seafood, poultry and meat.
These pathogens including Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria multiply fast when the temperature hovers within the 40°F to 115°F (4.4°C to 46.1°C) range.
When your uncooked chicken is stored outside the fridge, there is an increased risk of food poisoning.
Risk of contamination
Then there is cross contamination.
Sometimes, you’re in a hurry. You end up chopping veggies with the unwashed cutting board you used for cutting raw chicken slices.
Maybe you touched cooked or raw food (like salads) immediately after handling uncooked poultry.
Do you always rinse raw chicken in water before using it, because someone gave you wrong advice?
Soaking or rinsing chicken doesn’t destroy bacteria. All this only leads to food contamination and bacterial growth. If you ingest these germs along with your food, you could end up falling sick, sometimes seriously ill.
You have to handle raw poultry carefully.
And before you get down to cooking your favorite chicken recipe, you need to store raw chicken in the safest way.Refrigerated chicken should be cooked within 3-4 days of being removed from the freezer. If you haven’t used it within this short window, .
How To Store Raw Chicken At Home?
You can store the raw chicken in the fridge or the freezer.
If you’re planning to cook the chicken, you can leave it at room temperature but for not more than two hours. Beyond that, it is best to discard the chicken as it will be unsafe to consume.
How Long Is Raw Chicken Good In The Fridge?
Your nutrient -rich chicken spoils rather quickly when left unattended at room temperature. Refrigerating it increases the shelf life. If you’re planning a weekend family dinner, you get enough time to plan a special dish.
According to USDA, raw chicken stays good in the fridge for 1-2 days from purchase.
If you have stored it immediately in the fridge after reaching home, you can store it for 1-2 days past its sell-by-date as well.
Store the chicken in the original packaging and place in the coldest part of your fridge. This is usually at the back and this helps slow down the bacterial growth.
Can You Store Raw Chicken For Longer In The Fridge?
Freshly bought chicken remains edible for 3 days from the time you stored it in the fridge. This goes for frozen chicken that needs thawing in the fridge.
To store for longer, you need to freeze the raw chicken. Store it in the same packaging or use additional freezer safe bags. This prevents freezer burn.
Store whole, ground or cut chicken in this way. Frozen raw chicken has a much longer shelf life – nine months
Freezer prevents too much fat from accumulating and also keeps the chicken moist and tender.
Is Raw Chicken OK In The Fridge For 3 Days?
Ideally, you should cook it within one or two days of purchase. But keeping it in the fridge for an extra day won’t affect the quality of chicken much.
The pathogens won’t start multiplying rapidly as to make it inedible or unsafe to consume. But to be on the safer side, check whether your chicken piece is fresh or spoilt before you cook it.
How To Ensure Raw Chicken Remains Fresh In The Fridge?
Here are some things you can do to ensure that the chicken remains fresh even after two or three days of chilling.
Store the chicken in a baking dish or pan and avoid the vegetable drawer.
You can remove the original packing, if desired but cover it tightly with foil or plastic wrap.
Can you cook chicken chilled in the fridge for 5 days?
Five days in the fridge is a long time for raw chicken to remain fresh. Even if you store it at the right temperature between 40-41 °F or 4-5°C.
There could be increased bacteria growth, and worse still, the chicken could show visible signs of spoiling.
Cooking a 5-day old chicken may not protect from the effects of food poisoning.
Is Raw Chicken Okay In The Fridge For 7 Days?
By cooking poultry that has been stored for more than 3 days, you‘ll be gambling with your health.
If you’ve forgotten about the unopened packet of chicken wings or thighs for 7 days, then simply dump the raw chicken into the trash can.
Beyond 3 days, raw meat begins to degrade quickly, making it unsafe for consumption. Cooking would help much in such cases as the risk of food borne illness is a real possibility.
Should You Cook 7-Day Old Refrigerated Chicken That Looks and Smells Fine?
Raw chicken stored for longer in the fridge may have become rotten but still shows no signs of change in smell or texture.
Cooking will not help salvage it and make it good again. It is better to discard the raw meat.
How To Tell Whether Your Refrigerated Chicken Has Become Rotten?
While raw chicken stays good for 2-3 days after purchase, sometimes, you may have something close to the expiration date.
The chicken in question may already be spoiling (even before you place it in the fridge.)
If the pink color has turned gray or green, then you have a spoilt chicken on hand.
If it smells awful or like rotten eggs, it is beyond the road to recovery.
If the raw chicken is slimy to touch, throw it away without a second glance. Unless you want to indulge E.coli or salmonella.
Chicken indeed makes for a versatile dish. Buying raw chicken saves money and helps you recreate your favorite recipe at home. Storing it properly becomes important if you want to avoid falling sick with bacterial infections.
The fridge or freezer are perfect for keeping raw chicken fresh until you cook it. While frozen raw chicken lasts for 9-12 months, refrigerated chicken has a short shelf life of 1-4 days (depending on fresh or thawed).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Freezing Raw Chicken Kill Bacteria?
Surely that should kill the bacteria and viruses. Only thorough cooking can wipe them off your chicken.
But the replication process doesn’t slow down when you keep your raw poultry cold. That’s the reason you’ll find that fresh chicken at your retail store is cold to touch.
Can I cook raw chicken kept in the fridge for five or seven days?
As you’ve seen uncooked chicken or other meat stays good in the fridge for 1-2 days. If you’ve moved poultry from the freezer to the fridge for thawing, it should stay good for 3-4 days.
You can cook chicken that has been refrigerated for two days or less or thawed in the fridge for four days or less.
Can I refreeze raw chicken kept in the fridge for thawing?
Refrigerated chicken should be cooked within 3-4 days of being removed from the freezer. If you haven’t used it within this short window, refreeze it immediately.