How Long Will Raw Chicken Stay Good In The Fridge?
Whether you are working in a hospital, a restaurant or simply cooking at home, it is wise to maintain safe food practices especially in handling raw meat, like chicken. Old meat contains bacteria like Salmonella and E-coli, cooking meat that is gone off can kill Salmonella and E-coli, however the toxins still remain in the meat making it unsafe to eat.
Eating spoiled chicken can cause serious intestinal issues, like vomiting, diarrhea and fever, while most otherwise healthy people recover, it can have serious health repercussions for young children under the age of five and older people because they have weaker immune systems.
To eliminate any potential risks when handling raw chicken, it’s important to understand how long will raw chicken stay good in the fridge and other safety guidelines, like, where you should store the meat, at what temperature, making sure the meat is in date and having boards and knives just for raw meat and ensuring that your work area and utensils are hygienically clean.
How long Raw Chicken Stays Good In The Fridge
It is recommended that you store raw chicken, whole or in sections, in the refrigerator for no more than 2 days. If you do not plan to use the chicken within that time frame, freezing is the best way to store it. You can keep raw chicken in the freezer in its original packaging or in a zip-lock bag for up to 6 months.
Vacuum packing raw chicken can increase its shelf life, this is dependent on its cleanliness and what light and temperature it was exposed to when it was originally stored.
If you wish to thaw frozen chicken, ensuring that you do so in a safe manner is key. If it is a whole chicken, you can defrost it in its original packaging, you should account for the fact that a 5 pound chicken could take 24 hours to defrost, so it’s one day for every 5 pounds. Thaw the whole chicken in you refrigerator, kept inside a pan to ensure that there are no spills.
If you wish to thaw sections such as boneless chicken breasts, you may keep it in its original package, place it on a tray or pan and put it in the fridge. Half a pound of chicken takes 12 hours to defrost and 1 pound takes about 24 hours to defrost.
Never refreeze chicken that has been defrosted. With both the whole chicken and the sections, they should be kept in the refrigerator and cooked within 1 to 2 days.
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Purchasing Raw Chicken
When you do your shopping please ensure that you visit the meat counter last; this will lessen the time that the meat is kept out of the fridge between having bought your meat and going home. Bacteria grows very fast in a short amount of time, this is known as the ” danger zone”
Make sure that raw poultry does not come into contact with other items that you are buying especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Once you arrive home, put the raw chicken ( in the lower shelf) in the refrigerator straight away. This should reduce the “danger zone” situation from happening.
Always check the “best by” date and make sure that you cook the chicken within that time.
Where In The Refrigerator Should Raw Chicken Be Stored?
Raw chicken needs to be stored in the bottom shelf of you refrigerator, it needs to be in a leak proof container and kept away from other foods like other meat that is cooked and fruit and veg in order to avoid any cross contamination that could take place.
What cold And Freezing Temperatures Are Safe For Raw Chicken?
Bacterial growth occurs on raw chicken in temperatures above 40 degrees F; storing raw chicken in the refrigerator slows down this growth process. A safe temperature for your fridge is is below 40 degrees F.
Meat stored in the freezer should be kept at below 0 degrees F.
Freezing raw chicken prevents microorganisms from growing; freezing to below zero pauses the activity of the microbes present on the meat.
Many people neglect to regularly check the temperature of their fridge and ensure that their fridge at home is in perfect working order.
In a hospital, restaurant or deli-counter, you are expected to check the temperature of all fridges and freezers, you are given a time sheet and must have a non-mercury meat thermometer to check temperatures at hourly intervals; this goes to show how important following food safety guidelines really is.
When handling raw chicken, make sure your hands are clean, use gloves if necessary. If you are removing the raw chicken from its original packaging and putting it in a separate container and into the fridge, or even if you are keeping it in its original packaging and putting it into the fridge; you must wash your hands with warm water and soap to avoid spreading harmful germs.
Aside from practicing personal hygiene, it is necessary that all work surfaces are sanitized, your fridge must also be regularly cleaned both inside and outside such as the door and sides of the fridge, as you are handling those areas regularly, so it is crucial to be strategic in your cleaning routine.
Wash all chopping boards, utensils and all containers that you keep raw chicken in, in hot soapy water, rinse and make sure that your work equipment is completely clean and dry before you use them again.
Have separate containers and equipment for raw chicken, have a way of identifying them from all other equipment, such as a color coding system.
While it is vital to know how long raw chicken will stay fresh in the fridge, it’s important to think of all factors that could affect the safety and flavor it. If you are sharing your home with others, it is advised that everyone is on board and practices food safety.
It is good for all to be on the look out for raw meat that is past its “best by” date. Ensuring that you cook raw chicken within one to two days of refrigeration is important, but for peace of mind make sure that your raw chicken passes the sniff test, when in doubt- leave it out.