Food blog

Can I Eat Chicken That’s Been in the Fridge for a Week?

Food safety is paramount when it comes to consuming perishable items such as chicken. As we strive to minimize food waste, questions often arise regarding the safety of consuming chicken that has been stored in the refrigerator for an extended period of time. In this article, we will review the guidelines and considerations for storing and eating chicken that has been in the refrigerator for a week.

Understanding refrigeration and food spoilage

Refrigeration helps slow the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause food spoilage and potential foodborne illness. However, even in the refrigerator, perishable foods such as chicken will eventually spoil if stored for long periods of time.

Recommended Refrigeration Time for Chicken

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw chicken can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to two days. Beyond this time, the risk of bacterial growth and foodborne illness increases significantly. Therefore, eating chicken that has been in the refrigerator for a week may pose a potential health risk.

Signs of tainted chicken

To determine if chicken is still safe to eat, it is important to examine its appearance, odor, and texture. Look for the following signs of spoilage:

  • Foul odor: If the chicken has an unpleasant or sour odor, it is a strong indication that it has gone bad.
  • Slimy texture: Spoiled chicken often develops a slimy or sticky texture on the surface. Fresh chicken should feel smooth and slightly moist.
  • Discoloration: Any significant change in color, such as yellowing or darkening, may indicate spoilage.
  • Mold growth: Visible mold on the chicken is a clear sign of spoilage and should be discarded immediately.

Risk of foodborne illness

Consumption of spoiled chicken can lead to foodborne illness caused by harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, or Escherichia coli (E. coli). These bacteria can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and in severe cases, dehydration or other complications. Individuals with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are particularly susceptible to these risks.

Importance of proper storage and handling

To maintain food safety, it is important to follow proper storage and handling practices for chicken:

  • Refrigeration temperature: Keep your refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth.
  • Proper Packaging: Store raw chicken in leak-proof containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.
  • Use-by date: Respect the “use by” date on the package and consume the chicken within the recommended time frame for optimal safety and quality.
  • Hygiene: Practice good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly before and after handling raw chicken, and ensure that utensils and surfaces are properly cleaned and sanitized.

When in doubt, throw it away

If you are unsure about the safety of chicken that has been in the refrigerator for a week, it is better to err on the side of caution and throw it away.The potential health risks associated with eating tainted chicken are not worth it.

The essential guide to chicken storage: Keeping Your Poultry Fresh and Safe

Proper chicken storage is critical to maintaining chicken quality, flavor, and most importantly, food safety. Whether you buy fresh chicken from the market or have leftovers from a delicious meal, knowing how to store chicken properly is essential. In this article, we’ll look at the best practices for storing chicken to preserve its freshness, prevent bacterial growth, and maximize its shelf life.

Refrigerator Storage

After purchasing fresh chicken, it is important to store it immediately in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Place the chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag or airtight container to prevent cross-contamination with other foods. Store it on the bottom shelf, where it’s coldest, to prevent juices from dripping onto other items.

Proper temperature

Keep your refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C). Maintaining a consistent cold temperature inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, which can cause foodborne illness.

Raw and cooked separation

To prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to store raw and cooked chicken separately. Keep raw chicken in a sealed container or plastic bag to prevent its juices from coming into contact with cooked chicken or other ready-to-eat foods.

Freezing chicken

Freezing chicken can extend its shelf life for several months. Before freezing, make sure the chicken is fresh, properly labeled, and tightly wrapped in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn and maintain quality. For longer storage, consider dividing the chicken into smaller portions for convenience.

Thawing chicken

When thawing frozen chicken, it’s important to follow safe thawing methods. Recommended methods include thawing in the refrigerator, using the microwave on the defrost setting, or placing the chicken in a sealed plastic bag and submerging it in cold water. Avoid thawing chicken at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.

Shelf life

Fresh chicken should be used within 1-2 days of purchase. Frozen chicken can be stored for several months while maintaining its quality. However, it’s advisable to label the package with the date of freezing to ensure proper rotation and usage.

Leftover chicken

If you have leftover cooked chicken, store in airtight containers or wrap tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Consume leftovers within 3-4 days or freeze for longer storage. Proper reheating of leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) is critical for food safety.

Smell and Visual Inspection

Before using or eating stored chicken, perform a sensory inspection. Discard any chicken that has an off odor, unusual color, or slimy texture, as these may be signs of spoilage.

Safe handling practices

Always practice good hygiene when handling chicken. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw chicken to prevent the spread of bacteria.

How to Recognize When Stored Chicken has Gone Bad

When inspecting stored chicken for signs of spoilage, here are some common indicators to look for.

Foul odor

Fresh chicken should have a mild, slightly sweet odor. If the chicken emits a strong, unpleasant odor, it may be a sign of spoilage. A rancid or sour odor is an indication that the chicken has gone bad.


Fresh chicken is typically pink in color. If you notice gray or greenish tones, or if the chicken appears dull and has dark spots, it may be spoiled. Any significant change in color should be considered a warning sign.

Slimy texture

Fresh chicken should feel moist but not slimy or sticky. If you touch the chicken and it feels slimy or has a sticky film on the surface, it is likely spoiled and should be discarded.

Unusual texture

Notice the texture of the chicken. If it feels excessively mushy, dry, or has a mealy consistency, it may be spoiled.

Mold Growth

Visible mold growth on chicken is a clear sign of spoilage. Discard the chicken immediately if you notice mold on the surface.

Excessive liquid

Excessive liquid or pooling of juices in the package may indicate that the chicken is not fresh. Excessive liquid can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s best to discard the chicken in this case.

Gas release

If you hear a hissing or popping sound when you open the package, this could be a sign of bacterial growth and gas production. This is a strong indicator that the chicken is spoiled.


Proper chicken storage is essential to maintaining freshness, flavor, and food safety. By following these guidelines, you can safely store your chicken, whether fresh or leftovers, and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Remember to follow safe handling practices, maintain proper temperatures, and consider storage times. By doing so, you can enjoy delicious and safe chicken dishes every time you cook.


Can I eat chicken that’s been in the fridge for a week?

It is generally not recommended to eat chicken that has been stored in the refrigerator for a week due to the risk of bacterial growth and spoilage.

What factors affect the safety and shelf life of refrigerated chicken?

Factors such as temperature, proper storage and the freshness of the chicken at the time of refrigeration can affect its safety and shelf life.

How long is it safe to keep raw chicken in the refrigerator?

Raw chicken should ideally be consumed within 1-2 days of refrigeration to ensure food safety and quality.

Can the smell and appearance of refrigerated chicken indicate its safety?

Yes, the smell and appearance of chilled chicken can give an indication of its safety. If the chicken has an off odor or shows signs of spoilage such as discoloration or slime, it should be discarded.

Can refrigerated cooked chicken be eaten after a week?

Refrigerated cooked chicken should generally be consumed within 3-4 days for optimal safety and quality.

Are there any exceptions or special circumstances where refrigerated chicken can be consumed after a week?

It is not advisable to consume chilled chicken after a week, even in exceptional circumstances, as the risk of bacterial growth and foodborne illness increases with time.

Can freezing extend the shelf life of chicken beyond one week?

Yes, freezing chicken can significantly extend its shelf life. Properly frozen chicken can be stored for several months while maintaining its quality and safety.

What precautions should I take when freezing chicken?

When freezing chicken, make sure it is wrapped tightly in freezer-safe packaging to prevent freezer burn. Label the packaging with the date of freezing for proper rotation and use.

Is it safe to thaw and eat previously frozen chicken that has been in the refrigerator for a week?

Thawed chicken that has been stored in the refrigerator for a week should be handled with caution. It is generally recommended to follow refrigerator storage guidelines and consume within 1-2 days of thawing.

What is the best practice to ensure food safety for refrigerated chicken?

To ensure food safety, it is best to follow the general guideline of consuming chilled chicken within 1-2 days. If in doubt, it is always safer to throw away chicken that has been stored in the refrigerator for an extended period of time.

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