Can you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date?

In this article we are going to answer can you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date, what is the sell-by date, what is the use-by date, how to know if the chicken is not good anymore, and what happens if you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date, and how to handle chicken for it to last longer. 

Can you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date?

No, you should not eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date. According to the USDA, the chicken should be frozen or cooked after one or two days based on the sell-by date. After two days, chicken might start to decompose and the risk of food poisoning is high. 

What is the sell-by date?

The sell-by date is used in fresh products or prepared products that need a sell-by date as a guide for how long that product can be displayed for sale before it goes bad. 

They are normally safe to consume after this date but they can’t be sold after this date because they begin to deteriorate visually. 

If you want these products to last, try not to buy products after the sell-by date or they will go bad quickly at home.

What is the use-by date?

Best by date or use-by date tells the consumer that food is no longer fresh or in the same shape, texture, and taste as when you bought it. It might lose some freshness, taste, aroma, or nutrients but it doesn’t mean that the product has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat. 

The safety, freshness, and taste of the products depend on how it has been stored. So, if the product has not been handled correctly, it can lose all its qualities long before the best-by date. 

How to know if the chicken is not good anymore?

Chicken is a highly perishable food and if not stored at the right temperature it can easily go bad. There are some characteristics of chicken you need to check before you are going to eat it after the sell-by date such as

  • The color must be light pink with white fatty pieces. If it looks gray or green with yellow fat chicken is already starting to go bad. 
  • If it has a sour smell or sulfur-like smell it indicates you can no longer eat that chicken
  • Slimy, sticky, or tacky chicken is already bad. 

The bottom line, the chicken should have a mild odor and not look slimy at all. Frozen chicken is harder to decompose. 

What happens if you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date?

If you cook and eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date it is very probable that you can get a food-borne illness. Food poisoning or also called foodborne illness is caused when you eat something that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. 

Sometimes you don’t have to ingest the virus or bacteria, it is enough by eating their toxins to have symptoms of food poisoning. Symptoms might start within an hour of eating contaminated food. Symptoms include

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

The whole sickness caused by food poisoning can last one day to several days. Food poisoning is life-threatening to immune-suppressed patients, the elderly, pregnant women, and young children. 

The most common bacteria that can be found in spoiled chicken are

  • Pseudomonas fluorescens
  • Shewanella putrefaciens
  • Clostridium perfringens

How to handle chicken for it to last longer?

Fresh chicken should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as you buy it. If you are going to use it in one or two days it can be stored in the refrigerator in the original package. If you are going to use it later, wrap it in plastic or in a freezer bag and store it in the freezer. 

Cooked chicken can be stored in an airtight container or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. 

Follow this link for more information on how to store raw chicken after opening to keep it safe and fresh. 

Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.

How long is cooked chicken breast good in the fridge?

​​Can you eat Mcdonald’s chicken nuggets when pregnant?

Can you eat kung pao chicken when pregnant?

Conclusion

This article answered can you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date, what is the sell-by date, what is the use-by date, how to know if the chicken is not good anymore, and what happens if you eat chicken 3 days after the sell-by date, and how to handle chicken for it to last longer. 

Citation

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/chicken.html#:~:text=Chicken%20can%20be%20a%20nutritious,illness%2C%20also%20called%20food%20poisoning.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-tell-if-chicken-is-bad#purchase-and-expiration-date

https://www.insider.com/how-to-tell-if-chicken-is-bad-2019-5

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.