In this brief article, we will answer the question “Can you eat 2 year old frozen chicken?”, list down ways to properly store cooked chicken and the possible health implications of eating spoiled chicken.
Can you eat 2 year old frozen chicken?
Yes, you can eat 2 year old frozen chicken given that it was raw and uncooked. For chicken to still be good after 2 years, it should be frozen at 0 degrees without any changes in the temperature (2).
Studies showed that the production of 1000 kg live weight poultry in the United States in 2010 required 39–78% fewer resources and had 26–50% less environmental impact potential than the equivalent amount produced 45 years before (1).
Chicken stored at 0 degree will be fresh for as long as you want it to be. Any disruptions in the temperature can cause the chicken to go bad. This is because 0 degree prevents the microorganisms from growing. It arrests their growth. As soon as the temperature fluctuates, the bacteria gets time to grow. Pathogenic microorganisms that survive frozen storage can recover during thawing and may grow and/or produce toxins in the food during or after thawing if the pH, water activity and storage temperature support growth. Moreover, during the handling of thawed foods, additional contamination may occur from the hands, contact surfaces (e.g. utensils), or from other foods (3).
This is also true for when you take out the chicken, thaw or defrost it, use some of it and refreeze the remaining chicken. This should not be done. If you wish to store chicken for 2 years, it should be kept frozen without ever taking it out.
If you want to use some of it, you can store chicken in smaller portions so that you only have to take out one portion and cook it without the need for refreezing the remaining portion.
Special attention should be given to the freezer’s temperature. Any hot dish should not be placed inside the freezer as it will make the temperature inside the freezer rise and subsequently cause the chicken to spoil.
On the other hand, cooked chicken would not last for 2 years. According to the USDA, cooked chicken leftovers and fried chicken can be stored for 4 months in the freezer (4).
How to properly store cooked chicken
The key to making food last longer is to properly store it. Let’s have a look at some important points to keep in mind while storing cooked chicken. You can use these tips when you have made large portions of a dish and wish to store it for longer periods of time (4):
- Never leave chicken out for more than 2 hours after cooking it. If it stays out for too long, bacteria get time to multiply and overgrow.
- Make sure you let the chicken reach room temperature before putting it in the fridge.
- Make small portions of the cooked chicken and place them in separate shallow bowls. This ensures even and quicker cooling.
- Once the chicken has cooled down a bit, cover the containers with an airtight cover or saran wrap to completely seal them. Then put the containers in the fridge.
- If you wish to make your food last longer, put it in the freezer in the same way. Smaller portions also make it easier to defrost the chicken without having to defrost the entire big portion.
- Alternatively, cooked chicken can also be placed in ziplock bags for storage in the freezer. It will also save space inside the freezer.
What happens if you eat spoiled chicken?
There are some serious consequences of eating spoiled chicken. Sometimes it is easy to tell if the chicken has been spoiled just by looking at it or smelling it. Spoiled chicken may have a slimy or gooey texture. Mold can also be easily spotted as it has a greenish blue hue to it, indicating that it may be contaminated with Aspergillus (6). Spoiled chicken would give off an offensive odor, much like rotten eggs.
Poultry meat can be contaminated with a variety of microorganisms, including those capable of spoiling the product during chill storage, and certain foodborne pathogens. Human illness may follow from handling of raw meat, undercooking or mishandling of the cooked product. While Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. remain the organisms of greatest global concern in this respect, others present include the more recently reported Arcobacter and Helicobacter spp. and, occasionally, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (5).
Some pathogens however, do not affect the texture of chicken or even the smell, so a person may accidentally ingest them. To avoid this, it is best to throw out chicken after 3-4 days.
Some pathogens present in chicken are Escherichia Coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter Jejuni. These bacteria are notorious for causing food poisoning. Salmonella can also cause typhoid fever which requires a long antibiotic regimen.
Campylobacter J. can cause Guillain Barre syndrome. This is a syndrome in which there is ascending paralysis. If it is left untreated, it can lead to respiratory muscles paralysis and subsequent death.
The common symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. A lot of vomiting can lead to severe dehydration and the patient may need to be hospitalized. The patient will also almost always have fever.
In addition to all of these symptoms, typhoid fever can also cause headache, muscle aches, and loss of appetite.
Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.
In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat 2 year old frozen chicken?”, listed down ways to properly store cooked chicken and the possible health implications of eating spoiled chicken.
- Putman, Ben, et al. A retrospective analysis of the United States poultry industry: 1965 compared with 2010. Agri Sys, 2017, 157, 107-117.
- Freezing and Food Safety. US Department of Agriculture. 2013.
- EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ), et al. Guidance on date marking and related food information: part 2 (food information). EFSA Journal, 2021, 19, e06510.
- Chicken from Farm to Table. US Department of Agriculture. 2019.
- Mead, G. C. Microbiological quality of poultry meat: a review. Braz J Poult Sci, 2004, 6, 135-142.
- Pattron, Deryck Damian. Aspergillus, health implication & recommendations for public health food safety. Int J food safe, 2006, 8, 19-23.