Next time you're about to prepare raw chicken, give it a sniff. If it has a foul smell, chances are your poultry isn't safe to eat. If that's the case, throw it out. Don't take risks when it comes to bad chicken, or you could end up with severe food poisoning. After handling raw meat, wash your hands for 20 seconds it hot water with plenty of soap to avoid spreading bacteria.
Determining If Chicken is Safe to Eat
Raw chicken may be unsafe even if it doesn't smell bad. To avoid getting sick, take a few factors into consideration. Refrigerated chicken shouldn't be eaten more than two days past its expiration date. If raw chicken has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, throw it out, as it may harbor dangerous bacteria. Bad chicken may also become slimy or lose its pink color. If you have any doubts about its safety, don't cook or eat the chicken.
Handling and Storing Chicken
For fresh-smelling, safe chicken, handle it with care. Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to inhibit bacterial growth. If you won't eat the raw chicken within a couple days, freeze it for up to a year. Buy chicken when you're going straight home so it doesn't stay unrefrigerated for long. If you can't get home immediately, place an ice-filled cooler in your trunk to keep meats cold.
Thawing Frozen Chicken
To prevent frozen chicken from becoming smelly or unsafe to eat, it must be thawed properly. Defrosting chicken in the refrigerator is safe and easy, but takes at least a day. Chicken can also be defrosted in the microwave or placed in a sealed plastic bag and thawed in cold water. With either of these faster methods, cook the chicken right away.
Don't Wash the Chicken
Washing raw chicken in water may seem like an easy way to remove an unpleasant smell or rinse away bacteria, but it's a risky practice and you should not do it. If a piece of poultry has gone bad, washing it won't make it safe to eat. You need to throw it in the trash. Running water over raw meat can send germs flying all over you and your kitchen, making the entire area usafe for food preparation and storage.
Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.