One of the popular meats served in American households and those around the world is chicken. It’s a great meat because it can be used in a variety of different ways to create a wide range of meals. Chicken is also typically less expensive to buy than red meat which makes it a great option for those that are shopping on a limited budget. Even better, chicken frequently goes on sale which gives you an opportunity to stock your freezer.
But if when shopping your local grocery, you find certain packages of chicken marked for “quick sale”, be cautious. Meat that is discounted for “quick sale” is available because the store needs to sell it before it goes bad. So how do you tell if chicken is bad and whether that discounted chicken is a good buy?
Check Best by Date
The first thing you can look at in the store that will give you an indication if chicken is bad is the “best by” date on the package. All packages of meat should have a “best by” date. Check the date on the discounted packages and don’t buy any packages where today’s date is more than a day or two beyond the best by date. Chicken go bad quickly, within 2-3 days even when properly refrigerated. If you have a choice, choose the package with a best by date that is the farthest away to ensure you are getting the freshest chicken.
Color of the chicken
In the store, before you decide to buy a package of chicken, the second thing you can look for to tell if chicken is bad is the color of the chicken. Healthy, fresh chicken will be a brighter pink hue whereas chicken that has gone bad or is going bad will have a tinge of gray to the outside. In addition, the fatty parts of the chicken should be white rather than yellow. To be safe, any kind of discoloration in the chicken is an indication that it’s bad which means you should probably pass on that “deal”.
If you do decide to purchase chicken from the grocery that has been discounted for quick sale, make sure that you intend to use it that same day or the next day at the latest. It’s probably not a good idea to freeze chicken that has been discounted for a quick sale. So once you get that chicken home, how do you tell if the chicken has gone bad?
Once you get that chicken home and open it, a sweet smell or odor that resembles the smell of rotten eggs or sulfur means the chicken is bad. Don’t try to smell it through the packaging. Take the chicken out of the fridge and remove the packaging and then smell it. Any kind of strong odor is not a good sign. Whenever possible do your smell testing before cooking, while it’s still raw. It’s much more difficult to determine whether cooked chicken is bad then it is for raw chicken because spices and seasonings added to the chicken during cooking can hide the odor.
Texture of the chicken
Touch the chicken to see if it feels at all slimy on the surface. You can rinse chicken when preparing it, but if it still feels slimy or has a slightly sticky feeling to it after rinsing it, be safe and toss it. If chicken is stored more than 4 months in the freezer in its original packaging, look for other signs it’s gone bad once you thaw it. When in doubt, throw it out.
Dangers of Eating Bad Chicken
The dangers of eating bad chicken range from a mild headache to fever, from stomach cramping and diarrhea to vomiting. If you experience any combination of these symptoms within the hours immediately after eating chicken, it could be the chicken was bad or tainted with salmonella bacteria. The symptoms of food poisoning can become severe and can even be life-threatening. It’s important to know how to identify food poisoning from bad chicken and what to do about it so you can recover quickly or seek professional medical help if needed.
What to Do If You’ve Eaten Bad Chicken
- One of the things you can do if you’ve eaten bad chicken and are experiencing signs of food poisoning is to give your system a break for several hours. Stop eating or drinking regular food so that your system isn’t working so hard.
- Sucking on a peppermint candy or using peppermint oil can help settle your stomach a little bit quicker.
- In order to keep from getting dehydrated during the time that you are sick from food poisoning, take small sips of water frequently. If a couple sips of water stay down, have a couple more and gradually increase your water consumption over several hours.
- If you’re still feeling sick after several hours but it’s not severe, you can try the BRAT diet. Bananas-Applesauce-Rice-Toast for the next several hours. Stick to very bland foods. Stay away from foods that are greasy or spicy and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and dairy all of which may further upset your stomach.
- For severe symptoms associated with food poisoning, some people may need to seek professional medical treatment.
The danger of food poisoning is dehydration and bacterial infection. If at any point you are not able to keep water in your system, or if you are feeling extremely weak, you’ll need to get treatment by a doctor. Treatment can include IV fluids to rehydrate your body and provide nutrients it needs to recover. In some cases, doctors may prescribe antibiotics if they feel the food poisoning was caused by a bacterial infection.
Properly Cook Raw Chicken
One way to help reduce the chances of getting sick from raw chicken is to make sure that you cook your chicken thoroughly before eating it. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of approximately 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that chicken that is frozen will need to cook longer to reach the desired internal temperature. Cooking chicken that is bad can kill some of the bacteria and reduce the chances you will get sick but it’s not a foolproof method. If you think your chicken is bad, it’s really much safer to throw it out than to try and eat it.