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How Long Can You Freeze Chicken?

Posted in Food Safety on July 31, 2022

Individual pieces of raw chicken can be stored in the freezer for nine months and whole chickens for one year. Cooked chicken will last between two to six months in the freezer. Whether raw or cooked, each individual piece should be placed in freezer wrap paper and then put into an airtight plastic bag. Wash your hands before and after handling chicken, and store it in the deepest part of the freezer.

How Should Chicken Be Stored in the Fridge?

Here is how to maximize chicken’s quality and shelf life:

  • Store it in the refrigerator no longer than one to two days after purchase. Then it is time to cook or freeze it.
  • Refrigerate or freeze cooked chicken within two hours of cooking.
  • Store it in its original container or wrap the chicken tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Alternatively, you may store it in a shallow airtight container.
  • Whether cooked or not, never leave the meat at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Always keep the chicken in the coldest part of the fridge, typically the back of a bottom shelf.

How Do You Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Here are several signs to look out for when figuring out whether chicken has gone bad:

Raw Chicken

  • Unpleasant Smell: If the chicken smells sour or has a scent of ammonia, it is best to discard it.
  • Change in Color: Fresh raw chicken should have a pink fleshy color. If it looks duller and more grey than pink, it is time to throw it out.
  • Change in Texture: Spoiled chicken will have an unusually sticky and slimy texture that remains even after rinsing with water.

Frozen Chicken

  • Ice Crust: A thick layer of ice attached to the chicken means it is no longer good.
  • Freezer Burn: If the chicken has what looks like a white rash or mark that isn’t fat, it’s freezer burn. Freezer burn won’t hurt you, but the chicken’s quality will deteriorate.
  • Color Change: It is more challenging to inspect frozen chicken, but throw it away if it is darker than grey.

Cooked Chicken

  • Smell: Similar to raw chicken, if there is a sour smell, then it’s time to discard it.
  • Color Change: A color change can be difficult to see on cooked chicken, but if it looks grey, the safest choice is to throw it away.
  • Mold: Any visible sign of mold (green, black fuzz, or any organic growth) means it is spoiled.
  • Taste: Tasting chicken to see if it is bad is not recommended, but be cautious and throw it away if it tastes “off” or sour.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Chicken?

When chicken has gone bad, there is a risk of being exposed to dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli or Bacteroids, if you consume it. When ingested, these bacteria can lead to food poisoning, which causes unpleasant symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, foodborne illness can lead to long-term complications, such as kidney damage, or even life-threatening. If you or a loved one has suffered from contracting a foodborne illness from consuming contaminated food, contact us. Discuss your case and find out your rights by speaking to our qualified food safety lawyer at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC today.