Chicken is a staple protein in both residential and commercial kitchens worldwide. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average U.S. citizen ate approximately 65.2 pounds of chicken in 2018 alone. With chicken being such a popular menu item, it’s crucial that you know how to answer one of the most asked questions regarding poultry: “how long does chicken last in the fridge?”
There is a lot of conjecture about how to store chicken, and how long it’s safe to use, but with this handy guide, you can face poultry storage head on!
Before jumping into the details of how long chicken can last in the fridge, it’s vital to understand why proper storage is so important.
Why Proper Storage Matters with Chicken?
With chicken being the most eaten meat in America and one of the most popular meats worldwide. With raw meats, (poultry included) proper storage is vital. Without adequate storage, both raw and cooked chicken can pose potential health risks such as severe illness and, in some cases, death.
That’s because chicken can become contaminated with a variety of bacteria, including:
• Salmonella, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and even dehydration.
• Clostridium perfringens, commonly referred to as food poisoning, can cause intense abdominal pain, extremely watery diarrhea, and dehydration.
• Campylobacter includes severe symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
While many people assume the most significant risk of becoming ill is when handling raw chicken, they don’t realize that handling cooked, spoiled chicken can be just as detrimental, resulting in food poisoning.
Nobody wants to fall ill because they consumed contaminated and/or spoiled chicken. All it takes to stay healthy is to be able to answer the question, “how long does chicken last in the fridge?” Just remember, you’ll want to have an answer to this question when addressing concerns about raw and cooked chicken.
How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge While Raw?
So, the big question is this: how long does raw chicken last in the fridge?
If you’re planning on using the chicken within the next day or so, this is ideal because chicken last between 1-2 days in the fridge.. If you don’t plan on using the chicken immediately, then freeze it.
How to Store Your Raw Chicken in a Proper Manner
If you’re planning to use your raw chicken in the next day or so, you want to make sure you store it properly. For those with a commercial refrigerator, you’ll want to make sure that you store your raw chicken towards the bottom of the unit. That way, should any raw juice meat leak out of the packaging, it won’t contaminate any of your other ingredients.
Now, while some people choose to leave their chicken in the packaging from the store, it’s a better idea to place it in an air-tight container or storage bag and store it at the bottom of your fridge.
Now, while most people believe that once chicken is cooked, it’s no longer at risk of contamination of bacteria and/or a risk of making people ill. However, they are incorrect in the assumption.
If your chicken does not read an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then there is still a potential risk of food poisoning.
Even with thorough cooking, once chicken enters your refrigerator, if it’s not stored adequately, it will probably spoil faster thus, increasing the chances of harmful bacteria growth.
If raw chicken is only good for one to two days, how long can you keep cooked chicken in the fridge before it spoils? Once cooked, you must use the chicken within four days.
Know When Your Chicken’s Gone Bad
How do you know if your cooked chicken has gone bad or has become contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria? Unfortunately, there is no way to know, unless you witnessed the meat being spoiled.
It is much easier to determine if your chicken has spoiled, rather than suffered contamination.. As cooked chicken ages and spoils, it will take on a somewhat grayish or gray-green coloring. Other signs of spoiling include:
• Mold/white spots growing on your cooked chicken
• The chicken feels slimy
• The chicken has a foul odor
When dealing with potentially contaminated or spoiled chicken, a good rule of thumb is the saying, “when in doubt, just throw it out!”
How to Properly Store Your Cooked Chicken
Just as with raw chicken, there is a proper way to store cooked chicken to ensure it stays safe from contamination and prevents premature spoiling. The best way to store cooked chicken is by placing it into an air-tight container. Unlike raw chicken, once you’ve placed the cooked meat into a sealed container, you can store it towards the back of the fridge and up with your other ingredients as there are no raw meat juices that might leak out and contaminate your other goods.
Know Your Meats and How to Store Them
Knowing how to answer the question, “how long does chicken last in the fridge” is essential no matter your cooking skill level. It’s just as important as having the right refrigerator or the right cooking utensils. Keep you and your loved one’s safe, by showing them you know how to store your meats properly – both before and after cooking.