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How Long Does Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge

How Long Does Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge? Solved

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Shari Mason

Globally, chicken meat remains a mainstay in our diets, serving as a substitute for other meats like pork and beef, among others.

Its delicious white meat is rich in protein. However, it is a highly perishable food and can quickly develop bacterial growth.

But how long does raw chicken last in the fridge? We will cover everything you need to know about the length of its fridge life.

How Long Will Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge?

whole chicken on a pan

Raw chicken generally lasts for approximately 1 to 2 days in the fridge. The fridge is the perfect place to store your raw chicken if you’re going to eat it anytime soon.

We recommend storing your raw chicken in the fridge at 40°F (4°C) or below to slow down any bacterial growth on the meat. 

Read:

Factors To Consider

Temperature

This staple meat is delicate, and storing it at a temperature exceeding 40°F will cause some serious bacterial growth quickly. 

Storing it in the fridge below 40°F slows down bacterial contamination on your raw chicken meat and prevents you from acquiring foodborne illnesses when consumed.

Read: Can You Put Warm Chicken In The Fridge?

Sell By Date

Raw chicken meat is a highly perishable food product, so sell-by-dates are always included in its packaging.

Sell-by-dates do not indicate safety; instead, they tell you when the meat will decline. It is still safe to eat but expect a degradation in overall quality.

Storage

Proper storage allows you to preserve your raw chicken fresh for 1 to 2 days. You can store it directly in the fridge without needing to rinse it.

Store it in a leak-proof container to prevent contamination from spreading particularly when its juices leak and drip on other foods in the fridge.

How to Store Raw Chicken to Maintain Its Freshness?

To maintain your raw chicken’s freshness, vacuum-seal it and store it in the fridge. Your raw chicken will generally last for 3 to 4 days at 40°F or below.

“Do not put all your eggs in one basket.” 

— Warren Buffett

Vacuum-sealing draws out oxygen around the meat. It prevents the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which causes microbial spoilage for your raw chicken meat [1].

How to Tell if It Has Gone Bad?

Smell

Spoiled raw chicken meat gives off foul, sour-like odors. 

While it’s normal for fresh raw chicken meat to smell funny and unpleasant if it starts to smell sour, like rotten eggs, or anything out of the ordinary, throw it out.

However, you must not depend on the smell alone because our sense of smell varies. .

Texture

If your raw chicken has a slimy or sticky texture, it has already gone bad.

You can also try pressing down on the meat to determine whether it’s bad or not. If it has a very soft feel and leaves an indentation, it goes into the trash.

You must check and feel the meat, especially if your raw chicken looks just fine or doesn’t smell unusual.

Appearance

If the meat has turned gray or green with the fat parts being yellowish or has molds, then your raw chicken has already gone bad.

The gray-to-green color indicates that the meat has already been contaminated with bacteria. 

A fresh raw chicken tends to have light pinkish tones, with the fats being white. Though there can be a mild discoloration when refrigerated, it only indicates that the raw meat isn’t as fresh and is still safe to eat. 

Understanding the Dates on the Raw Chicken Packaging

Sell-by-dates guide retailers to determine when the raw chicken should still be displayed for sale before the quality declines [2]. Raw chicken is safe to cook and eat two days beyond its sell-by-date.

Best-by-dates tell consumers when the raw chicken will be at its best to cook and eat. It is generally safe to eat raw chicken two days past its best-by-date but expect quality degradation.

Use-by-dates inform consumers of the last date a raw chicken can be cooked and eaten before it deteriorates. If your raw chicken is already past its use-by-date, throw it out.

Can You Freeze Raw Chicken?

whole raw chicken on a wooden board

Yes, you can freeze raw chicken for up to 9 months. It is ideal, especially if you’re not planning to cook and eat it within two days after purchase.

When freezing raw chicken, use an airtight container or high-quality freezer bags to make it safer in the freezer. And label it with the date when it was stored in the freezer.

Tips & Tricks When Storing Raw Chicken in the Fridge

  • Store your raw chicken immediately in the fridge in its original packaging, and don’t let it sit on your countertop, not even for a short period. 
  • If leaking persists from its original packaging, transfer your raw chicken to a deep bowl and cover it with wax paper or aluminum foil.
  • Re-wrap it tightly with plastic and place it on a platter with raised sides to prevent the leaks from dripping.

FAQs

u003cstrongu003eCan I cook raw chicken that has been in the fridge for a week?u003c/strongu003e

No, because it is most likely contaminated with bacteria or molds already. Raw chicken can only last in the fridge for 1 to 2 days and an extended 3 to 4 days when it’s vacuum-sealed.

u003cstrongu003eIs raw chicken OK if it smells a little?u003c/strongu003e

Yes. It is normal for raw chicken meat to smell a little funny, given it’s still fresh and raw. But if it gives off unbearable, sour-like odors, it’s already gone bad and should be thrown out.

u003cstrongu003eWhat happens if you cook bad chicken?u003c/strongu003e

If you cook and eat a bad chicken, you will acquire foodborne illnesses or food poisoning. 

u003cstrongu003eIs thawed chicken good for 3 days in the fridge?u003c/strongu003e

No. Thawed chicken products are suggested to be used within 1 or 2 days of fridge time. Beyond that will mean your chicken is already bad and not edible.

The Bottom Line

Raw chicken meat is a highly perishable food that lasts 1 or 2 days in the fridge and 9 months in the freezer.

You must always keep the temperature, sell-by-date, and storage in mind so you won’t have quickly spoiled raw chicken to begin with.

You can determine whether or not it has already gone bad if it smells sour, has a slimy texture, and shows gray, green, and yellow colors.

Lastly, store your raw chicken safely to prevent its juices from leaking and getting in contact with other foods in the fridge, avoiding food contamination.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768908/
  2. https://news.extension.uconn.edu/2019/10/30/expiration-use-by-and-sell-by-dates-what-do-they-really-mean
Shari Mason

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