Do you have to use chicken by the sell-by date?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Do you have to use chicken by the sell-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not it is mandatory to utilize chicken by the sell-by date. Moreover, we are going to discuss the ways to do a sensory evaluation of chicken and the health implications of consuming bad chicken. 

Do you have to use chicken by the sell-by date?

You should use the chicken within 2 days it is purchased, thus as long as you have properly refrigerated the chicken at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it can still be used a day or two after the sell-by date. 

“Sell by” date indicates the particular date before which chicken should be sold to the customer, it is the recommended date before which chicken should be sold.

According to USDA, you should consume your chicken by the use-by date. It is worth mentioning that it is the use-buy date that is written on the package of chicken and it is better to use chicken within this time to enjoy its optimum quality and taste.

Moreover, the way you have stored your chicken also impacts whether or not it is still safe to consume. For instance, if your chicken was stored for more than 2 hours at room temperature (or more than 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit) then it is better to discard it as bacteria grow best at 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and there are chances of your chicken to be already bacteria-laden in this case.

On the other hand, the chicken that is properly refrigerated the whole time at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below can be suitable to consume within 2 days after purchase provided that there are no signs of spoilage associated with it.

It is worth mentioning that cooking prolongs the shelf life of the chicken for a couple of days. On the other hand, if you want to preserve the quality of your chicken for quite a while then it is better to store it in the freezer properly.

Sensory evaluation of chicken

Certain indicators point out bad chicken, therefore you should consider the color, texture, and smell of your chicken to reach a final verdict whether it is still suitable to consume or if it has gone bad.

Color 

If you can notice that the color of the chicken has changed to grey-green then it is the indication that your chicken is past its prime time.

Texture 

If you feel something slimy or gooey while touching the chicken, it means that your chicken has gone bad and it is better to discard it. 

But keep one thing in mind that rinsing the chicken won’t help you in this scenario as you won’t be able to get rid of the bacteria. Rather rinsing the bacteria-laden chicken will put you at risk of cross-contamination as the bacteria will spread in the utensils and other food items that will come in contact with the water from the chicken that has gone bad.

It is worth mentioning that you should wash your hands thoroughly after touching the bacteria-laden chicken or else the bacteria will transfer from your hands to any other thing that comes in contact with your hands.

Smell 

If you smell something acidic or sour while taking a sniff test of your chicken then it means that your chicken has gone bad and you should discard it.  

Eating a bad chicken is associated with food poisoning due to E.coli, Campylobacter, or Salmonella on the chicken. So if due for any reason, bacteria somehow found their way to your chicken and have spoiled it then the best thing you should do is to discard it.

The most common case that you can see regarding the consumption of bad chicken is the incidence of food poisoning. 

As the chicken belongs to the meat group that is a highly perishable food commodity and can have E.coli or Salmonella present in it which can cause food poisoning which is characterized by abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Therefore, you should try to drink as much water as possible so that while the body is getting rid of the toxins in the form of diarrhea and vomiting, the water you drink will protect your body against dehydration that vomiting can otherwise result in.

In case the condition does not get better or even worsens, seek immediate medical help.

Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.

How to reheat chicken nuggets in the oven?

Is it safe to eat cooked chicken stored in the fridge for 7 days?

Will reheating chicken kill bacteria?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do you have to use chicken by the sell-by date” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not it is mandatory to utilize chicken by the sell-by date. Moreover, we discussed the ways to do a sensory evaluation of chicken and the health implications of consuming bad chicken. 

Citations

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-long-is-meat-or-poultry-safe-to-use-after-the-sell-by-date#:~:text=While%20product%20dating%20is%20not,uncooked%20meat%20and%20poultry%20products.&text=Fresh%20chicken%2C%20turkey%2C%20ground%20meat,to%202%20days%20of%20purchase.
https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16788
https://oureverydaylife.com/safe-cook-chicken-2-days-after-expiration-date-35897.html
https://www.insider.com/how-to-tell-if-chicken-is-bad-2019-5
https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-long-is-chicken-good-for-after-the-sell-by-date/

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.