Chicken is a household staple that’s both nutritious and sweet. Still, it can get bad, and how to tell bad chicken from fresh one is a skill you need to master.

Across the globe, people eat chicken as one of the household staples. It is nutritious and one of the greatest protein sources. Despite all this, chicken can go bad really fast. What’s bad about this? When you eat stale chicken, you risk your health a great deal. You can contract foodborne illnesses, and some of these are fatal. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention established that about 75% of domestically acquired foodborne diseases come from stale food, chicken inclusive. Peer into this article to learn everything about how to tell whether your chicken is fresh or stale.

Why is bad chicken bad for your health?

In a recently conducted study, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found that at least 1 out of every 6 Americans suffer from some form of foodborne illness. What’s more, most of these cases originate from foods that go bad. When people eat them, or when their juices come into contact with other foods and surfaces like tables and chopping boards, the pathogens find their way into the human body. In fact, there are many pathogenic substances in pre-cooked and undercooked foods, which are major sources of foodborne diseases. For instance, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter are just but a few of these. If you eat poultry that is stale or undercooked, you risk getting these pathogens into your body. Soon, you and your family will be part of the statistics, either sick or dead. So then, how do you tell whether the chicken is fresh or stale? Let’s get into business.

i.                    Focus on the color and appearance

One of the surest ways to tell whether your chicken is fresh or stale is by focusing on its color and appearance.

a) Color and appearance of raw chicken

Examining what color your raw chicken has and its appearance will certainly help you tell its conditions- stale or fresh. When the chicken is raw and fresh, its flesh should be light pink, and the fatty parts should be white. However, if you notice that the raw chicken is greenish or greyish, that’s a clear indication that it has started going stale, and you should get rid of it to avoid contracting foodborne diseases. In addition, if the chicken fatty parts are yellow instead of white, that, too, shows that it has started going bad and may not be safe for consumption.

Chicken is rich in a compound called oxymyoglobin, and when it interacts with oxygen, it converts to metmyoglobin. This reaction might cause the pinkish color of the chicken to start fading, and this does not necessarily mean that the chicken is bad. Still, the very chicken is not fresh, and you may decide not to eat it. In appearance, also pay attention to the growth of molds. If your chicken starts developing molds, it’s a clear sign that it is not fresh, and you should not consume it.

b) Cooked chicken

You can also pay attention to color and appearance to gauge the condition of cooked chicken. Generally, the cooked chicken should be white, and if it bears pink flesh, that is a sign of undercooking. If you want to store cooked chicken in the refrigerator, set the temperatures below 4degrees Celsius and store it only for four days in air-tight or sealed containers. Do not let the chicken stay in the ‘danger zone’ (4- 40degrees Celsius) for long as these conditions set the right environment for pathogens to grow and multiply fast within a short time. When you want to eat it, heat it to 74degrees Celsius.

ii.                 Check out for the smell

Usually, raw chicken would have no smell at all or just a mild one. Therefore, if your raw chicken has a telltale smell that is apparent, you may have to discard it altogether to avoid contracting foodborne illnesses. Some smells might be like rotten eggs or sulfur-like, which are clear signs that the chicken is not fresh. Even a strong sour smell is a sign of chicken that is on its way to being bad, and it’s just best to toss such. Since people have varying degrees of smell, you should never rely on smell to tell whether or not your chicken is fresh. Focus on other indications, too, including color, texture, and appearance.

iii.               Texture

Apart from color, appearance, and smell, the texture will also help you know whether your chicken is fresh or stale. When you are buying chicken, you will realize that the texture is soft and glossy, and it should retain this for as long as it is fresh. However, when you notice that the chicken is sticky, tacky, or slimy, it shows it is not fresh. If your hand collects slimy residues upon touching the raw chicken, it means that the chicken is not fresh. After cooking, the chicken becomes dry and firm. Therefore, if the texture is slimy, tacky, sticky, or has residues, the chicken is no longer fresh and deserves to be discarded.

iv.               Look at the ‘best before’ date

Like with most food products you will buy, the raw chicken will also have two dates, the ‘best before’ and ‘packed on.’ The first date is the date when the chicken was packed and is advantageous mainly to the retailers. The second date is the date by which you should consume the chicken to enjoy its peak quality. It’s actually the expiration date. Something else to remember is to minimize the time your chicken spends in the danger zone conditions by picking it as the last item as you shop and getting it to the refrigerator or cooking it as soon as you get home.


Chicken is one of the staples in households across the world. Since it spoils easily like other poultry meat, knowing how to tell whether it’s fresh or stale is a critical skill. There are several ways to do this, including paying attention to the color & appearance, the ‘best before’ date, smell, and texture.

Tatyana Dyachenko
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For the past years, Tatyana has worked as a sex blogger and a relationship advisor. She has been featured in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue. Vice, Tatler, Vanity Fair, and many others. Since 2016, Tatyana has focused on sexology, attended various training courses, participated in international conferences and congresses. “I wish people would address sexual issues in a timely manner! Forget shyness, prejudice and feel free to see a sex doctor for help or advice!” Tanya enjoys pursuing her flare for creativity through modelling, graffiti art, astronomy, and technology.

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