How can I tell if I bought some bad chicken?
This is the second time this is happened to me with buying chicken from the grocery store, The first occasion was when I bought some incredibly cheap chicken breasts from Stater Brothers and they were huge mutant sized chicken breasts. When I got them home they just didn't taste right and I threw them away. The second time was last week when I bought some cheap chicken tenders from Ralphs. I cooked them and they were awful. They tasted gummy and disgusting. What is the rule of thumb for knowing if chicken is freshor not? I don't want to keep buying chicken on sale only to have it taste disgusting when I cook it.
Three things come to mind:
#1 Know WHEN to shop. The day the sale starts you face much better odds that the chicken is fresh then later in the week.
#2 Where to shop. Busy locations are generally going to be better than places that only have a handful of customers. They get their deliveries more frequently and in quantity. IF you do get something that has to be thrown out BY ALL MEANS CALL THE STORE AND LET THEM KNOW!. Minimally you ought to get an offer to replace the product and/or a refund -- maximal impact may be that your PREVENT A WIDESPREAD OUTBREAK OF FOOD POISONING.
#3 You have to be realistic about HOW you shop. Most poultry is sold in state that is basically frozen but only by a few degrees. A whole bird is almost always like this, and easy to cut up, This is safest, but if you are going shopping imeadiately before cooking you could buy the stuff that is sold above freezing. I would be VERY cautious in handling this as it can SPOIL on the way home even in not very hot weather. If you are also buying some ice cream or other frozen food it is not a bad idea to have these things bagged together to sort of create a temporary "cooler"...
Converely you could purchase poultry from a specialty store, but I think even there such pieces as "tenders" are notorously prone to spoilage, and frankly NOT worth the money.
Smell is very reliable. If it smells bad throw it out and get your money back.
The issues you talk about may be from poor handling/ poor temperature control/ low quality production methods.
I've never shopped at Ralph's, but have assumed they're a reputable chain. But if they're selling very low-grade stuff, I'd just totally avoid them. Chicken that's been mishandled can (of course) be hazardous to your health. I'd also e-mail Ralph's to givve them your opinion.
after many years in the food business,dealing with raw meat and chicken, a few comments; smell is important, just as in a good fish market you do not smell fish, in the meat and poultry departments of a store, never buy any meats or food products that give off a smell in the general area of the store, look out for the strong smell of bleach in the area while you are shopping. you often cannot detect oder from the seald package. many times the packages have been in someone shopping carts or left at the check out counters and returned to the case because the date is still good, always check dates, those that are close to the end or at the end. ALWAYS BUY BRANDED CHICKENS IN THE PROCESSORS PACKAGE, THE FURTHER THE PARTS ARE BROKEN DOWN THE GREATER CHANCE OF CONTAMINATIONS. SOME BRANDS THAT ARE GOOD AND COME WITH 800 NO TO CALL, ARE PERDUE, BELL & EVANS, TYSON. SALE RANDOM BREAST AND OTHER COMBO PACKS HAVE BEEN THROUGH ROUGH TIMES OFTEN BROKEN FROM BAD CHICKENS, REJECTED FOR NOT MEETING A SPECIFICATIONS OR AT THE VERY LEAST REPACKAGE BY THE RESALER; NORMALLY, WHITE MEAT WILL SHOW LESS DETERIATION; HOWEVER WHEN IT DOES IT IS REALLY BAD. buy your own freezer pack at the stores for transporting you chicken and other meats home. shop for chicken and all dairy and meat products LAST. always return bad product to the store, just stick it in the freezer, put a small portion in a separate bag to give to your local health department in the event you get ill or they want to argue. learn to purchase a breast with bone and skin and end up with your own boneless chicken breast. may stores have napkins or paper towels above the meat counters. or just keep plastic produce bags with you while you shop. use the bag as you would a glove insert the hand the will come in contact with the packages and when you have made a selection take your other hand and pull it over the product.
remember to wash you hands at home and if possible in the stores restroom and to have all meat products placed in separate bags even if they only end up in one shopping bag. its a shame that we must practice. all of these cautions but who ever thought that you would have to worry about spinach or salad greens in a bag!