In many households, their diet includes chicken as a staple, and there’s every chance of having leftovers and storing them in a refrigerator is convenient. However, it’s only reasonable to wonder how long can cooked chicken last in the fridge.
While chicken is a delicious and healthy source of protein, poor storage can lead to bacterial contamination. Therefore, it’s important to prepare, cook and store properly. Else, you might be dealing with some foodborne illness.
Whether it’s baked, fried, grilled, or any other types of cooked chicken, you need to know who to store and tell when it’s no longer safe to eat.
So, if you eat a lot of chicken and need to store the leftovers properly, this article has the rule of thumb to ensure you play it safe.
How long can cooked chicken last in the fridge?
According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), you can safely refrigerate the raw chicken, turkey and other poultry for up to two days. However, cooked chicken (grilled, fried, baked or any other type of cooking method) can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Refrigerating your chicken in a fridge attenuates bacterial growth since the fridge keeps the temperature below 4 degrees C / 40 degrees F.
In addition, it’s best to store your raw chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag or container to contain its juice and ensure it does not contaminate other foods. On the flip, it’s appropriate to keep your cooked chicken in an airtight container when refrigerating.
But if you intend to store your chicken for more than a couple of days, you should do so in a freezer and not a fridge. Using a freezer, you can safely store raw chicken, turkey, and other poultry for approximately nine months, while a whole chicken can remain healthy for about a year. However, your cooked chicken should only be stored in the freezer for at most six months.
All in all;
Keeping your raw chicken in your fridge should not be for more than two days while cooking chicken is safe in the fridge for approximately 3 to 4 days.
#Video: How Long Cooked Chicken Last in The Fridge | How Long can Cooked Chicken Stay Out
How to know when the chicken has gone bad
If you’ve got chicken stored up in the fridge for a week or more, then it’s more likely to have gone bad and a source of foodborne illness.
Let’s check out other ways to determine if the chicken or poultry stored in the fridge has gone bad.
Past due date
Either raw or cooked chicken, it should not be stored past the USDA recommendation. It’s more likely that your chicken has gone bad when it’s passed its ‘best by’ date.
Cooked and raw chicken with a gray-green color indicates the presence of bacteria. If you find even spots of gray or green mold on the chicken, then it’s unsafe to eat anymore.
When both cooked and raw chicken is going bad, they tend to smell like ammonia. However, this odor might be challenging to detect if the chicken has been marinated with spices, herbs, or sauces.
Refrigerated chicken going bad will have a slimy texture which won’t be healthy and safe to eat even after rinsing. It’s best not to rinse the chicken as it would not get rid of the bacteria, rather spread the bacteria from the chicken to surfaces, utensils, and other foods leading to cross-contamination.
What to do if the refrigerated chicken has gone bad?
There are many ways to figure out if your chicken – raw or cooked- has gone bad, from the fading color to gray spot, acidic or sour smell, and slimy texture. Once you suspect your chicken is going bad, then it’s strictly recommended to discard it.
How to maintain the chicken freshness
Don’t wash raw chicken
According to the CDC, it’s unsafe and unhygienic to wash raw chicken. As said earlier, this can lead to cross-contamination. The chicken juice contains bacteria that can easily spread on your countertops, utensils, and other food.
Thaw the chicken safely.
You must have heard that it’s bad to leave your chicken out at room temperature to defrost – and here’s why. Bacteria in the chicken, turkey or other birds can easily multiply or even get more contaminated by being exposed to the environment for a long period. Thus, the best way around this is to thaw the bird in your refrigerator overnight, microwave it or leave it in a bowl of ice-cold water.
Risks of eating spoiled chicken
Eating meats that have gone bad can lead to food poisoning (also called foodborne illness). Chicken can easily be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, campylobacter, etc., which increases your chances of getting food poisoned.
Usually, these bacteria are eliminated by cooking the raw chicken properly. However, it’s important that you avoid eating or cooking spoiled chicken. While cooking or reheating might eliminate the bacteria on the surface, the toxins created by these bacteria remain and can result in food poisoning if ingested.
What are the effects of food poisoning?
Foodborne illness can lead to serious symptoms such as high fever above 38.6 degrees C or 101.5 degrees F, vomiting, dehydration, nausea, chills, and bloody stools. In certain instances, food poisoning can be severe and lead to hospitalization or even death.
Therefore, it’s paramount that you discard any chicken you suspect to have gone bad. Cooking or reheating it does not guarantee your safety.
Ate spoiled chicken? Here’s what to do
If you mistakenly or suspect you may have ingested spoiled chicken or any meat, or even better, experiencing any food poisoning symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, here are the next steps to take
Visit a doctor immediately.
Your doctor needs to diagnose if the symptoms are related to food poisoning. Then, the doctor will instruct and prescribe the right medications or provide extensive care depending on the severe foodborne illness that has affected your health.
This might not be so bad, and you’ll probably be discharged right away if your symptom is not so severe. However, in other situations, you might require more attention and monitoring at the hospital, especially if you’re experiencing dehydration.
Drink more water
If you can’t reach a doctor immediately, drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated, as you must have a lot of water due to diarrhea and vomiting.
If you suspect food poisoning, it’s best not to consume any more food as your body will likely reject whatever you eat. In addition, eating more food means more trips to the bathroom; therefore, try to minimize your food intake.
Also, it allows your stomach to settle. If you must eat, try ingesting bland food such as oatmeal, bananas, toast, saltines, rice and cereal.
Extra caution when storing cooked or raw chicken in the fridge
According to the Australian Chicken Meat Foundation, ACMF, both Campylobacter and salmonella are bacteria existing naturally in various foods. In particular, the chicken’s gut contains several bacteria that live without affecting the bird. However, some of these bacteria can lead to illness in humans.
And, as such, it’s important to put the necessary effort into minimizing your chances of contamination from raw or cooked chicken. Also, it’s important to handle the raw chicken carefully in your kitchen.
When it comes to handling raw chicken safely, there are two basic rules to follow:
- Keep the chicken below 5 degrees C for raw meat and below -20 degrees C for frozen birds at all times. Storing the meat at an extremely low temperature completely stops or slows down the growth of bacteria.
- Cook the meat thoroughly and ensure all chicken parts are cooked up to at least 75 degrees C to eliminate the bacteria completely.
#Video: How Long Is Cooked Chicken Good in the Fridge? How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?
Wrap It Up
It’s safe to store raw chicken in a fridge for 1 – 2 days and up to 4 days for cooked chicken. To determine if the chicken has gone, consider the “best if used by” date and other signs like color, texture, and smell.
All in all, you should avoid eating rancid chicken if you don’t want to deal with vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, and other symptoms of food poisoning. In addition, cooking spoiled chicken thoroughly does not make the meat safe and healthy for consumption. Therefore, it’s best to discard the chicken if you suspect it has gone bad.