Can you cook chicken after the use-by date?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you cook chicken after the use-by date?” by providing answers related to its shelf life, how to recognise that it has gone bad and the risks of consuming expired chicken and how to store it to increase its shelf life. 

Can you cook chicken after the use-by date?

Yes, you can cook chicken after the use-by date. It is safe to consume chicken past this date. Although, for the sake of safety, It should be consumed 2 days past this date. The reason why this date is printed on the label is to inform consumers about the deterioration of its quality beyond that date. 

Consumers often get the expiration date and use-by date mixed up. It is a common mistake so let’s try to understand the difference between the two and the safety aspects of it. 

What is the difference between the use-by date and the expiration date?

Let’s understand the difference between the two dates. Food package labels printed with the use-by date says nothing about the safety of the product, in this case, chicken. So what is the significance of this use-by date? It simply means that the date after which that food item will lose its certain quality attributes. In this case, it could be the colour, texture or flavour of the chicken.

The expiration date is the date beyond which the food is no longer safe to eat. Eating expired foods can cause some serious harm to our bodies. They are microbiologically unsafe to consume. In other words, harmful microorganisms start growing on them, rendering them unfit for consumption. 

Other FAQs about Chicken which you may be interested in.

How long can you keep Rotisserie Chicken?

How long will Rotisserie Chicken Last in the Fridge?

How can you tell when the chicken has gone bad?

A research paper stated that the organisms that cause spoilage in poultry meat (chicken) are Shewanella putrefaciens and Pseudomonas spp. These microorganisms can result in the perishability of chicken. 

If the chicken smells acidic it should be thrown away. Sometimes if the chicken has gone bad it will be slimy to touch and a little sticky too. You may think that cleaning the chicken might get rid of some of its sliminess but it is risky because you could end up contaminating other foods or utensils. However, it should be noted that meat changes colour due to several factors and it is not always due to spoilage. Check the texture and smell of the chicken thoroughly before making a decision. If it looks like there is some mold growth, it should be discarded immediately. 

What are the risks of consuming chicken after its use-by date?

Chicken is a highly perishable food. A lot of research is carried out to set a use-by date because eating bad or spoiled chicken can have adverse effects on your health. It is difficult to know for sure if it has crossed its expiration date. 

If it was stored correctly and if it smells and feels fine, there should be no harm or risk in eating chicken that has crossed the use-by date by 2-3 days. If it’s stored in a freezer, it can last for longer periods of time. 

What are the risks of consuming chicken after its expiration date?

Chicken that has expired can cause food poisoning. It is extremely risky to eat chicken that smells or feels bad. Although the use of heat during cooking can kill several microorganisms, there still could be some toxic substances present in this chicken that could harm you. 

The symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhoea, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, dehydration and chills. Infants should avoid consuming food that has crossed the use-by date for the sake of safety. 

How do you extend the shelf life of chicken?

Here are a few ways you can increase the shelf life of a chicken and consume it beyond its “use-by” date:

  • When you purchase packaged chicken from the grocery store, it should immediately be refrigerated if is going to be consumed within 3-4 days. 
  • Store it in a freezer to eat it at a later date. Harmful microorganisms thrive at high temperatures. Storing chicken at lower temperatures can help you store it for a longer time. It can be kept in the freezer for around 9 months. 
  • Following hygiene is essential. Ensure that the chicken does not come into contact with other food items in the fridge. 
  • An interesting fact is that chilling is employed in packing-houses these days by storing chicken below its freezing point. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you cook chicken after the use-by date?” by providing answers related to its shelf life, how to recognise that it has gone bad, risks of consuming expired chicken and how to store it to increase its shelf life. 

If you have any comments or questions please let us know.

REFERENCES

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-chicken-last-in-the-fridge#spoiled-chicken-risks

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/17/use-by-dates-on-food

https://oureverydaylife.com/safe-cook-chicken-2-days-after-expiration-date-35897.html

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.