My Chicken In The Fridge Has Started To Smell, Can I Eat It Safely?

Chicken is one of the best meats that you can have, not only is it lean and without fat, but it is one of the best sources of animal protein that you can find. However, one of the downsides of making a lot of this meat is that it will spoil.

My Chicken In The Fridge Has Started To Smell, Can I Eat It Safely?

But it is hard to tell when the chicken has really gone bad, a sit will smell even when it has been freshly cooked. However, if the smell makes you recoil, then the chances are that you will need to dispose of it immediately.

However, it is worth knowing when you will have to prepare your chicken for cooking and when you will have to throw it out. We’ll also give you some great tips for keeping your chicken fresh for as long as possible.

How Can I Best Determine If My Chicken Is Fresh?

There are some quick and easy methods that you can use to determine whether or not your chicken is fresh enough to consume. The 3 main methods are sight, touch and taste.

Smelling the chicken should give you a good indication of how fresh it is. If you’re chicken really smells bad, then we would certainly recommend that you throw it away immediately.

However, if your chicken only smells slightly bad, then this might mean that you will only have to cook it. Once you have cooked a chicken in this state, then the odor should gradually deteriorate.

Touching the chicken should also give you a good idea of when you should eat it. The most elastic your chicken fresh is, then the fresher it will be.

Looking at the chicken should also give you a great indication of how ripe or unwell your chicken is. If your chicken looks discolored, then the chances are it is going off. We’ll discuss chicken discoloration a lot more in-depth later on.

You’ll need to make sure that all of these 3 signs are there before you decide what to do with your chicken.

Now we’ll have a look at chicken coloring and how that can determine the state of freshness that your chicken is in.

Chicken Coloring – What Color Means Fresh?

You’ll need to make sure that your chicken has the right coloring before you decide whether or not to cook it. Here is a color chart for chicken, so that you have a better idea of what to do with it:

Pink Skinless Chicken

If your chicken is pink, then the chances are that it will be very fresh to eat. In its ideal state, that is, the state it was in when you first bought it from the supermarket or the butcher, it will be pink on most of the body, going darker pink or purple near the legs.

There should also be a moistness to the meat that will degrade gradually over time. The drier your chicken becomes, the more off it will be. If your chicken has no moisture left on it whatsoever, then this could mean it is ready to be binned.

Yellow Whole Chicken

If you are buying organic chicken, then the chances are it will have more yellowish skin. If your chicken has been fed with corn, then this will definitely be the case.

If you have noticed that your whole chicken is growing grey, then this will definitely be an indicator that it is ready to hurl into the bin.

You’ll need to make sure that you are looking at the coloring of your chicken as well as the touch and smell of the chicken. If your chicken is grey, dry and is starting to smell, then you can be sure that it might not be safe to eat.

How Dangerous Is Gone Off Chicken To Eat?

The longer that chicken is left, even in the refrigerator, then the more bacteria it will accumulate. This will increase your risk of contracting food poisoning, which can be lethal if it goes untreated.

There are many diseases that you can contract from gone-off chicken. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Campylobacter bacteria
  • Salmonella
  • Clostridium perfringens

This is why you have to be very particular when you are eating chicken that has been left to sit out for a few days.

What Smell Should I Be Aware Of With My Chicken?

As we have mentioned above, even freshly cooked chicken will start to smell. You have to be aware of how those smells change in order to tell when your chicken has gone off.

There will also be other factors that will determine how much the chicken will smell. The age of the chicken as well as the chicken’s diet will also change how the chicken smells, even after a few days.

The more intense your chicken smells, the more likely it will be that you will need to dispose of it immediately.

The reason why your chicken smells is because of the bacteria that it has accumulated. It will also have a very dry texture, as it will lose a lot of moisture.

Touching The Chicken – What Does Fresh Chicken Feel Like?

Touching The Chicken - What Does Fresh Chicken Feel Like?

There are different textures that you can expect from different types of chicken. Knowing what certain type of chicken should feel like versus how it feels when it is gone off will make all the difference.

How Should Skinless Chicken Feel?

When skinless chicken is fresh, it should have a moistness that you’ll be able to feel distinctly with your fingers.

This moistness should not be sticky or tacky, as this might also be a sign that there is something wrong with the chicken. Normally it will be a kind of sheen or dampness that is more like water than glue.

If your chicken has gone slimy, then this might also be an indication that your chicken is starting to go sour. If this is combined with a strong and unpleasant smell, then this is definitely a sign that your chicken needs to be binned.

Anothe resign that your chicken might be going off is the presence of white bubbles on the surface of your chicken’s skin. This might also take the form of little white speckles.

How Should Skin-On Chicken Feel?

This type of chicken should be quite soft and smooth to touch and will not be as moist as skinless chicken.

If you are feeling a slimy texture to this chicken, then you can also expect that it is gone-off or starting to go sour.

One method of getting rid of this odor and some of the stickiness of your chicken will be to wash it. This might not be the best method of getting rid of some of the stickiness, but it should help determine how gone-off your chicken is.

Make sure that you do not, under any circumstances, wash your raw or cooked chicken under a tap. This will increase the cross-contamination and the buildup of bacteria around your chicken.

If you are going to wash your chicken, fill a bowl with some warm water. Make sure that the bow is large enough to house the chicken and then rub the water gently over its surface.

Make sure that the bowl that you are washing your chicken in has been cleaned thoroughly before you attempt to wash your chicken.

How Does The Packaging Affect The Shelf-Life Of Your Chicken?

Chicken In Cling Wrap

If your chicken has been wrapped in cellophane with a polystyrene tray underneath, then the chances are that any door that it gives off will be trapped within this container.

When you open this wrapping, the chances are that the odors that have been building up will be released. This might be overwhelming at first, but it is not a sign that your chicken has gone-off.

The juice that naturally drips from the chicken will also give off an odor. This will not be a sign that your chicken has gone off at all.

Once you have taken off this wrapping, then the odor of the chicken should diminish and it will become far more natural and fresh-smelling.

Vacuum-Packed Chicken

This is a great way of preserving chicken, as it sucks all of the air out first, reducing the chance of any bacteria sprouting.

When a chicken has been vacuum packaged, the color will be a lot darker than regular chicken. This is because of the way that it has been preserved. This does not mean that your chicken has gone bad.

Once again, as with the chicken that has been wrapped, there will be a natural fousty smell that gets released when you open it. This is perfectly normal and is just the result of the smell of the chicken building up and being released.

Once you have removed your chicken and allowed the meat to air for a while, you should notice that the smell reduces in intensity. It will resume a more natural fresh chicken smell.

If the meat continues to be discolored or releases a very strong odor after ten minutes of opening the packaging, then this could be a sign that your meat has spoiled.

If your meat does have a dry texture and has started to smell quite strongly, then we would recommend that you dispose of it immediately. Ingesting this kind of meat could cause you a lot of harm.

Butcher’s Paper Chicken

If you have picked up your chicken fresh from the butcher, then you might have had it wrapped in paper.

If you are buying this chicken, the chances are that it will be very fresh. Ideally, you’ll want to use up this chicken within 2 days of purchasing.

This chicken will usually not have much of a smell when you have purchased it. In fact, this is the freshest chicken that you can buy and it will actually smell pretty tasty when you put your nose to it.

Again, when your fresh chicken is starting to produce a stronger odor, that when you will need to cook it quickly. The stronger the odor, the less fresh your chicken is.

How Do I Preserve Chicken For Longer?

There are a few methods of preserving chicken so that it will last longer. One of the tried and tested methods is keeping it in the fridge. This method is great for slowing down the onset of bacterial growth.

You can also keep your chicken in the freezer, however, you’ll need to make sure that the method of preservation is adhered to properly before putting it in your freezer.

First, you’ll need to reduce the size of your chicken. This is because when you are thawing out your chicken, you might need to only defrost a few segments. It will also help you to store it easier in your freezer draws.

When you are defrosting your chicken, you can either do this on the ‘defrost’ setting in the microwave, or you can transfer it to your refrigerator and leave it in there overnight.

Make sure that you do not cook your chicken frozen, as this will damage the chicken and make it hazardous to eat.


We hope that our guide to how your chicken should smell, look and feel has given you a better idea of when you should cook it and when you should throw it in the trash.

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