Thursday, December 8, 2011

How to Know if You Bought a Bad Chicken

Younger poultry has less meat under the skin, which can make the color of it appear bluer.

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If you've ever bought a chicken or chicken pieces home from the store and wondered if you've bought a bad chicken, you're not alone. There are a few factors that contribute to spoilage in packaged poultry. Several things, such as color, odor and texture, need to be considered when trying to discern if you've purchased bad poultry.

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Look at the package date. Grocers are supposed to pull the chicken days ahead of the date, but sometimes they miss a stray bird. Checking the "packed on" or "sell by" date can tell you how old the chicken is.


Check the color for fading or darkening. The normal color of chicken ranges from a bluish-white to yellow. A reddish color on the chicken is most likely due to the protein myoglobin, which is normal. Change in color alone, however, does not necessarily indicate spoilage.


Smell the chicken. If you find that it has an "off" or unpleasant odor, this may be a sign that the chicken has indeed gone bad.


Rub the chicken with the tips of your fingers. If the chicken has a slimy feel, or is sticky to the touch, it may have gone bad.


Take note of the above steps and make a decision about whether to return the chicken or use the chicken. If you have a chicken or chicken pieces that have a change in color, odor or texture, you could have a spoiled chicken. If two or more of the changes are apparent, there is a good chance the chicken is spoiled or near spoiling.

Tips & Warnings

If you have a frozen chicken with white patches of freezer burn, it is still safe to eat. Simply trim off the freezer-burnt sections and prepare as normal.

Darkening of the meat around the bone area in a cooked chicken is normal, especially in younger poultry.

Some chicken may still have a pink cast after cooking it fully. To ensure safety, always use a meat thermometer when cooking to make sure it was cooked to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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ReferencesUnited States Department of Agriculture: The Color of Meat and PoultryResourcesUnited States Department of Agriculture: Chicken From Farm to TablePhoto Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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