If you cook chicken on its use-by date can you eat it the next day?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question “if you cook chicken on its use-by date can you eat it the next day?” and discuss the risks of consuming chicken past its use-by date and how to know if chicken is spoiled. 

If you cook chicken on its use-by date can you eat it the next day?

Yes, you can cook chicken on its use-by date and eat it on the next day, unless there is any noticeable sign of spoilage.

Foods can be consumed after their use-by date, as the use-by date is an indication of quality and not safety. After the use-by date the food is not necessarily spoiled, rather it has a reduced quality regarding its organoleptic properties (1).

When should you not cook chicken on its use-by date and eat it the next day?

You should not cook chicken on its use-by date and eat it the next day if you notice any sign of spoilage of the chicken. The possible signs indicating that the chicken has gone bad are (1,2,3,4):

  • Generation of off-odors and off-flavors: lipid oxidation by the action of enzymes, chemical reactions or the action of microorganisms lead to the formation of aldehydes, ketones and alcohols that characterize off-odors and off-flavors such as rancid, cardboard-like, fatty or fruity
  • Formation of gas: fermentation caused by bacteria and yeasts can produce gas, which is perceived by bloating of the package
  • Formation of slime: slime can be caused by lactic acid bacteria
  • Discoloration: Darkening of the meat indicates loss of freshness, while greenish colors may indicate bacteria contamination
  • Formation of small translucent drop-like colonies on the surface of the meat is a possible sign of microbial growth

What are the risks of eating spoiled chicken?

The risks of eating spoiled chicken are of experiencing an episode of foodborne illness in the short term and to have higher risks of developing inflammatory diseases in the long term.

Foodborne illnesses can be caused by the ingestion of contaminated chicken meat or by the ingestion of toxins produced by these pathogens. Many pathogenic microorganisms are able to grow in chicken meat and have been reported to cause food outbreaks (1,2,3).

Chicken meat is susceptible to spoilage by Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Listeria monocytogenes, Echerichia coli, Pseudomonas, yeasts and molds. These microorganisms, when ingested, can lead to foodborne illnesses, with possible symptoms being diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever and other flu-like symptoms (5).

In the long term, by the ingestion of chicken meat containing oxidized fats, it can lead to higher risks of having diseases such as atherosclerosis, early aging, diabetes, cancer and and others (7).

Lipid oxidation reactions generate chemical compounds that can interact with the cell metabolism, improve the oxidation in the body and cause DNA mutation. In the long term, cells are damaged and may die.

Although rancid chicken does not possess a health risk in the short term, it may cause negative health effects in the long term and therefore should be avoided.

How to cook chicken and improve its safe consumption after its use-by date?

To cook chicken and improve its safe consumption after its use-by date, follow the instructions (6):

  • Wash hands and cutting board and all the kitchen utensils with running water and soap
  • Do not handle cooked food when handling uncooked food to avoid cross-contamination
  • Do not handle other food products when manipulating the uncooked chicken
  • Make a thorough inspection of the conditions of the chicken and discard it by any sign of spoilage
  • If the chicken is good and does not show any spoilage, cook the chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F
  • If there are leftovers, store them in the fridge or freezer after 2 hours after being cooked

What is the shelf life of chicken?

The shelf life of chicken is as given in the table below (6):

ProductShelf life in the fridgeShelf life in the freezer
Fresh Chicken, whole1 to 2 days1 year
Fresh Chicken, parts1 to 2 days9 months
Cooked Chicken Leftover3 to 4 days4 months

Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.

Can you freeze chicken on the use-by date?

How to freeze shredded chicken?

How to freeze raw chicken?

Conclusion

In this short article, we provided an answer to the question “if you cook chicken on its use-by date can you eat it the next day?” and discussed the risks of consuming chicken past its use-by date and how to know if chicken is spoiled. 

Reference

  1. Woods, L. F. J., and P. N. Church. Strategies for extending the shelf-life of poultry meat and products. Poultry Meat Sci Symp Ser. Richardson, RL and Mead, GC (eds.). CABI, Publishing, UK. Vol. 25. 1999.
  2. Al-Hijazeen, Marwan, et al. Effects of tannic acid on lipid and protein oxidation, color, and volatiles of raw and cooked chicken breast meat during storage. Antioxidants, 2016, 5, 19.
  3. Mor-Mur, Montserrat, and Josep Yuste. Emerging bacterial pathogens in meat and poultry: an overview. Food Bioproc Technol, 2010, 3, 24-35.
  4. Cerveny, John, Joseph D. Meyer, and Paul A. Hall. Microbiological spoilage of meat and poultry products. Compendium of the microbiological spoilage of foods and beverages. 2009.
  5. Foodborne Illness and disease. United States Department of Agriculture.
  6. Chicken from farm to table. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  7. Huang X, Ahn DU. Lipid oxidation and its implications to meat quality and human health. Food Sci Biotechnol. 2019, 28, 1275-1285.

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