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How Long Can Chicken Sit Out?

Posted in Food Safety on July 30, 2022

Whether raw or cooked, chicken can sit out at room temperature for two hours. Any longer than that, and it will enter the “danger zone,” which is when harmful bacteria begin to multiply, and the chicken is no longer safe to eat. If temperatures in the room rise above 90 °F, chicken can only sit out for one hour.

Why Can Chicken Only Sit Out for Two Hours?

Bacteria responsible for causing foodborne illness grow rapidly at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F, known as the danger zone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Therefore, the CDC recommends limiting the time that chicken sits out to two hours maximum.

Foodborne illness is responsible for 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year. Symptoms can arise within a few hours or may take days but often consist of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and fever. If you or a loved one became sick from eating contaminated food, a food safety lawyer can help recover the compensation you deserve.

How Long Can Chicken Be Stored?

Packaged, raw chicken can be refrigerated in its original wrapping in the coldest part of the refrigerator for 48 hours after purchase. If it is not to be used in 48 hours, freezing is recommended. Whereas cooked chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days before it should be discarded.


How can you tell if chicken has gone bad?

First, check the “best by” date on the package. If it is past that date, the safest choice is to toss it rather than risk getting sick. Next, check the:

  • Color: Fresh raw chicken should have a pinkish, fleshy hue and will begin to turn a dull gray when it spoils. Freshly cooked chicken will appear white or brown and will turn gray or a greenish-gray color as it spoils.
  • Smell: If raw or cooked chicken has a sour or foul odor, throw it out.
  • Texture: Raw chicken should have a glossy, slippery texture and will feel especially slimy, sticky, or thick when spoiled. Bad cooked chicken will be slimy, sticky, or overly soft.
  • Mold: Any visible mold, such as green, black fuzz, or organic growth of any kind, means the chicken has definitely gone bad.

How to safely thaw frozen chicken?

There are three ways to thaw chicken, but the safest method is using the refrigerator:

  • Refrigerator: It takes about 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound, whole chicken in the refrigerator; cut-up parts, 3 to 9 hours.
  • Cold Water: Place chicken in its original wrap or watertight plastic bag in cold water; change the water every 30 minutes. A 4-pound whole chicken will take about 2 hours to thaw.
  • Microwave: For quick thawing of chicken (raw or cooked), use the microwave. Thawing time varies according to the form in which chicken is frozen (whole or parts, number of parts frozen together, etc.). Use Defrost or Medium-Low setting, then microwave for two minutes and let stand for two minutes. Repeat if needed.

Can you refreeze thawed chicken?

Chicken can safely be refrozen if it was thawed in the refrigerator and within 24 to 48 hours of thawing.

What happens if you eat old chicken?

When you eat old chicken, you are at risk of consuming harmful bacteria and contracting food poisoning.