If you’re like most people, you’ve probably had a package of chicken sitting in your fridge for a few days past its sell-by date. But how long can you actually keep chicken before it goes bad? In this article, we’ll explore the answer to that question and provide some helpful tips for ensuring your chicken stays fresh and safe to eat.
Understanding the Sell-by Date
First, it’s important to understand what the sell-by date on chicken packaging actually means. The sell-by date is the date by which the store should sell the chicken. It’s not a safety date, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the chicken is bad after that date. In fact, if you refrigerate the chicken properly, it can often be safely consumed for several days after the sell-by date has passed.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken in the Fridge?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including how the chicken was stored and whether it was cooked or raw. In general, raw chicken should be consumed or frozen within two days of purchase. If the chicken is cooked, it can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. However, if you notice any signs of spoilage (such as a foul odor or slimy texture), it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw the chicken away.
If you’re not planning on using your chicken within a few days of purchase, it’s best to freeze it to extend its shelf life. Raw chicken can be safely stored in the freezer for up to nine months, while cooked chicken can be frozen for up to six months. To freeze chicken properly, make sure it’s tightly wrapped and labeled with the date it was frozen.
Tips for Keeping Chicken Fresh
To ensure that your chicken stays fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible, there are a few key tips to keep in mind:
- Always refrigerate chicken as soon as possible after purchasing it.
- Keep chicken in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the back) and make sure it’s below 40┬░F.
- Store chicken in a leak-proof container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165┬░F to kill any harmful bacteria.
- Wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards thoroughly after handling raw chicken to avoid cross-contamination.
By following these tips and being mindful of the sell-by date on your chicken packaging, you can ensure that your chicken stays fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible.
In conclusion, while the sell-by date on chicken packaging is important, it’s not the only factor to consider when determining how long chicken is good for. By properly storing your chicken in the fridge or freezer, cooking it to the appropriate temperature, and being mindful of signs of spoilage, you can safely consume chicken for several days or even months after its sell-by date has passed. So go ahead and enjoy that package of chicken in your fridge – just make sure to follow these tips to ensure that it’s fresh and safe to eat.