How To Tell If Chicken Is Bad

Are you unsure of whether that chicken in your fridge is still good to eat? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will teach you how to tell if your chicken has gone bad using simple techniques.

By checking the expiration date, examining the color and texture, smelling for any off odors, feeling for sliminess, and conducting a temperature test, you’ll be able to confidently determine if your chicken is safe to consume.

Let’s dive in and become a chicken connoisseur!

Key Takeaways

  • Fresh chicken should have a pink or white color, firm and springy texture, and no foul odor.
  • Spoiled chicken can have a gray or green color, slimy or sticky texture, and a strong, pungent smell.
  • Trust your sense of smell to identify bacterial contamination and spoilage.
  • Proper storage below 40°F (4°C) and prevention of cross-contamination are crucial for maintaining chicken quality and food safety.

Checking the Expiration Date

You can easily check the expiration date on the chicken packaging to determine if it’s still good to eat. Understanding poultry storage guidelines is crucial to ensure the safety of the meat.

Always store raw chicken in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to prevent bacterial growth.

It’s important to note that the expiration date indicates the last day the chicken is guaranteed to be fresh. However, even if the expiration date hasn’t passed, you should still check for signs of bacterial contamination.

Look for any discoloration, unpleasant odor, or slimy texture on the chicken. These are clear indicators that the chicken has gone bad and should not be consumed.

Examining the Color and Texture

Take a look at the color and texture of the chicken to determine its freshness. When analyzing freshness, assessing appearance is crucial. Here’s a handy table to help you understand what to look for:

Fresh Chicken Spoiled Chicken
Pink or white in color Gray or green in color
Firm and springy to touch Slimy or sticky texture
No foul odor Strong, pungent smell

Fresh chicken should have a pink or white color, and it should feel firm and springy when touched. There should be no foul odor present. On the other hand, spoiled chicken will have a gray or green color, a slimy or sticky texture, and a strong, pungent smell. By carefully observing these visual and tactile cues, you can confidently assess the freshness of your chicken and make informed decisions about whether to cook or discard it.

Smelling for any Off Odors

When smelling for any off odors, it’s important to trust your sense of smell and rely on your instincts. Identifying potential bacterial contamination is crucial when determining if chicken is bad. Bacteria can cause the meat to produce a foul smell, indicating that it is no longer safe to consume.

The role of proper storage in determining chicken freshness cannot be underestimated. Chicken should always be stored at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to slow down bacterial growth. If the chicken has been stored at higher temperatures, it may develop a strong, rancid odor, indicating spoilage.

Additionally, if the chicken has been stored next to strong-smelling foods, it may absorb those odors, making it appear bad even if it is still fresh.

Feeling for Sliminess

Feeling for sliminess is an effective way to determine if the chicken is fresh and safe to consume. When checking for sliminess, you want to pay attention to certain factors.

First, touch the chicken with clean hands or gloves. If the chicken feels slimy or sticky, it is a clear sign that it has gone bad. The sliminess is caused by the breakdown of proteins in the meat, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

Other common signs of spoiled chicken include a sour or ammonia-like smell, a change in color from pink to gray or greenish, and a sticky or tacky texture.

Trust your instincts and if something feels off, it’s best to discard the chicken to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses.

Conducting a Temperature Test

To ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly, you should use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. This is important because proper cooking techniques are crucial in preventing foodborne illnesses.

By understanding safe storage practices and cooking the chicken to the appropriate temperature, you can ensure that any harmful bacteria present in the chicken are eliminated.

When using a meat thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C) for chicken to be considered safe to eat. This will help you avoid undercooking the chicken, which can lead to food poisoning.

Remember to always clean the meat thermometer before and after use to prevent cross-contamination.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I still eat chicken if it is past the expiration date but looks and smells fine?

You should not eat chicken past its expiration date, even if it looks and smells fine. Eating expired chicken carries the risk of consuming spoiled meat, which can lead to food poisoning and other health issues.

Is it safe to eat chicken if it feels slightly slimy but doesn’t have any off odors?

If the chicken feels slimy, it is a sign of spoilage and should not be consumed. Even if it doesn’t have any off odors, it’s important to follow food safety guidelines for handling chicken to avoid foodborne illnesses.

How long can I store cooked chicken in the refrigerator before it goes bad?

To store cooked chicken properly, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. When reheating, ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria.

Can I cook chicken that has been in the freezer for over a year?

Yes, you can cook chicken that has been in the freezer for over a year. However, it’s important to note that the quality and taste may not be as good as fresh chicken. Make sure to properly thaw and cook it to ensure food safety.

What should I do if I accidentally consumed chicken that may have been bad?

If you accidentally consumed bad chicken, watch for symptoms of food poisoning like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Stay hydrated, rest, and consider seeking medical attention if symptoms worsen or persist.


In conclusion, now that you know how to tell if chicken is bad, you can ensure the safety of your meals. Remember to always check the expiration date and examine the color, texture, and smell of the chicken. Feeling for sliminess and conducting a temperature test are also important steps.

Did you know that according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, approximately 48 million people in the United States get sick from foodborne illnesses each year? By following these guidelines, you can avoid becoming one of those statistics and enjoy safe and delicious chicken dishes.

Stay informed and keep your meals safe!