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Slightly stinky chicken... Am I crazy or is it okay?

I have to admit, I'm a procrastinator of the highest degree. I end up letting stuff sit in the refrigerator for a few days on a regular basis.

So I have this good chicken I bought, and it was jussssst starting to have that stinky smell.. I cut it up, washed it up, and I didn't think it was that bad.. But if I was my mom, it would have been in the garbage for sure..

Am I risking something other than perhaps taste? I made sure I used a recipe where the chicken was cooked several times throughout the process (onion/wine/gruyere sauce, finished in the oven)

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  1. > it was jussssst starting to have that stinky smell

    i think you have enough evidence right there to chuck it in the bin :)

    i bought fresh chicken that smelled a bit off. i doubted myself, then paid for it in the end :( never again!

    1. Raw chicken should NEVER sit in the fridge more than 1-2 days. The old adage is "if in doubt, throw it out!" and I completely agree. Food poisoning is not worth it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: anni

        i brine birds for 2 days but thats curing for smoke and bbq.

        1. re: anni

          That can't be right anni. Most chicken I buy in my local supermarket has a "display until" date that is usually 2 or 3 days after the date I'm buying it and the "Use by" date is often another 2 to 3 days after that "display until" date. And those dates are usually conservative. That means properly refrigerated chicken can safely sit in the fridge for at least 4-5 days.

          1. re: frobe

            On the other hand, I've bought chicken that was way before it's sell by date, and stank to high heaven when I opened it up, and I returned it for a refund. But I agree with you that, yes, theoretically, it should be safe for that long, but I think it often isn't. Chicken is one area in which I am very conservative when it comes to food safety issues.

        2. Agree with the others completely. Prepare a side of pepto and clear your calendar for the next 48 hours if you eat that rank chicken. It shouldn't smell at all, not even a little. Washing it off does nothing to kill the bacteria that are definitely living on it.

          1. Me and food poisoning have a history anyways.. Couple tips.

            Never eat at a place called "Chicken and Pizza"...


            Don't save warm mayonnaise for later...

            As far as the chicken goes, I guess we're going to see. The bacteria has been assimilated. I promise not to post from the bathroom!

              1. Well? You didn't eat it, did you?

                Always remember. Mother knows best. I'm sure in this instance, she would have told you, "No, no, no, no, NO!" At least, that's what I'd tell my kids. And do, often.

                Chicken and fish should NEVER stink. Nor should any other food, unless it's supposed to (e.g., Limburger).

                I think you'd better make friends with your freezer. Just remember, NEVER leave food out on the counter to defrost. Thaw in the refrigerator. By that I mean, the food (not you) should thaw in the fridge.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Steady Habits

                  I ate it. I'm adventurous like that, I'll eat just about anything that's mildly appetizing, what can I say... It's 2am now and I feel great, I think I'm through the woods. They say that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger... But somehow I don't see that applying here heh.

                  And yeah I always thaw in the fridge, and have a well stocked deep freezer.. I actually froze just about everything I bought except the chicken, and was STILL lazy enough to let it sit there.. Sigh.

                  1. re: SocksManly

                    Thank g-d you're alive.


                    How long ago did you eat it?

                    I figure twelve hours is the critical benchmark.

                    1. re: Steady Habits

                      P.S. My Retrievers--perhaps like you--also eat anything that's mildly appetizing, as well as some things that are not at ALL even faintly appetizing to the rest of us...but that doesn't mean I'd trust their judgment when it comes to food safety.

                      Nothing personal, of course. Just saying.


                    2. re: SocksManly

                      12 hours means nothing, you have up to 2 days before food poisoning may occur. Many peopple get food poisoning and blame the last meal they ate, but in many instances it was a meal more than 24 hours before.

                      I too often take few more risks than many, Chicken is never on the list. I treat all chicken as if it had been innoculated with e coli, salmonella and several doses of anthrax. One too many video clips of the effects of food poisoning in cooking school to make me even slightly courageous with poultry.

                  2. As long as you fully cooked the chicken, your risk is probably minimal. Pheasant (which is basically just a wild chicken) is traditionally aged until it becomes quite ripe. And the method of dispatch is far more likely than commercial slaughter to spread around the contents of various vital organs and the digestive track (shotgun pellets are somewhat indiscriminate about where they go). That's not to say you can't possibly get sick, but the odds are pretty long.

                    If you'd cooked the chicken and then let it get stinky, that would be a whole 'nother matter. Staph infections are not at all uncommon when cooked food has been handled and allowed to stand at room temperature, and staph bacteria produce toxins that are fairly stable at high temperature. But with raw chicken, your primary risk is salmonella and the second most common problem is probably e. coli. Both are rendered harmless by full cooking.

                    Without consulting the literature, quantifying the risk is impossible. But raw chicken is not a common source for staph infections, so cooking the bird likely took care of any potential problems. There's some risk, but it may well be less than the risk you take every time you cross the street.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      I was having similar thoughts. Granted, I'm no scientist or food wizard. And, like SocksManly, I'm a horrible procrastinator with stuff in my refrigerator and cupboards that would alarm others. Likewise, I've had enough food poisonings (from restaurants, thank you) to be wary. But if it was only slightly stinky, and if he cooked it thoroughly, and if it was eaten right away, I wouldn't have worried too much. I've discovered chicken breasts in my fridge probably a week after I bought them, but cooked and eaten them anyway. It's stuff that I would consume directly from the fridge (like rancid milk) that I would discard.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I totally agree with you. I have eaten plenty of chicken at the just-beginning-to-get-slightly-stinky stage and have never felt even the slightest tinge of GI distress. I see that as when you know it is your last chance to eat the chicken.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          So our fridge-kept chicken breast, with skin on, was left in fridge 3 days after expiration date and did stink; I washed it with dish detergent rinsed VERY WELL, cooked, in glass fry pan [Pyrex] on medium to high heat for 20 minutes, turned once. Smells fine but IS IT REALLY OK? Should I give it to my two Chihuahuas??ground up and in tiny portions..or what?

                        2. If it was wrapped in cello, when you first open it, it will smell stinky. And you might think it is old. But if you let it air for a bit, it is ok. Plus, salmonella is killed with cooking.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: sarah galvin

                            True about salmonella. However there are other food born bacteria that can make you sick. The problem with simply relying on a thourough cooking is that while that kills the bacteria, it does nothing to get rid of the toxins they produced and left behind. Those toxins make you sick. Just because you don't get full blown food poisoning symptoms doesn't mean what you ate was safe or toxin free.

                            1. re: Shane Greenwood

                              And where, praytell, are these "other food born [sic] bacteria" supposed to come from? As far as I know staphylococcus aureus (the most common bacterium that produces heat-stable toxins) is fairly uncommon in whole raw poultry. Which makes sense; bacteria don't just appear by magic, but must have a source. Salmonella and e. coli are right there in the chickens' intestinal tracts, but there just isn't much of a source for staph.

                              Also, I'm not sure I understand your comment that "Just because you don't get full blown food poisoning symptoms doesn't mean what you ate was safe or toxin free." Not making you sick is kind of the definition of "safe" food. And if you ingest toxins and they don't make you sick, where's the harm? This stuff doesn't bioaccumulate. If you're still feeling good after 24 hours you've got nothing to worry about.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Well, food can become contaminated in a number of different ways. It's food safety 101 really. Each time it's handled there is a potential for some cross contamination. Also, cross contamination in home food storage is quite common given the relative small size of most refrigerators to the amount of different foods in close proximity. So it's not just e. coli and salmonella that you have to be concerned about. Once the temperature is in the danger zone (about 40 to 140 degrees) most bacteria will grow, although some will grow at even cooler temperatures.

                                (Sorry about the typos that you called out, Alan. I was typing that on my phone keyboard.)

                          2. Thanks for all the great information! I didn't get sick, it's well more than 12 hours later, and nothing happened, not even a mild stomach ache.

                            Just an observation, it seemed like everyone in the day/evening crowd was like "throw it out!" and then when the nightowls arrived, they were like "It's probably okay man..." Coincidence? :) I'm a total nightowl too, I usually go to sleep when the sun comes up.

                            Thanks for the info about the risks, and how to avoid them. I gotta say I often cook something and leave it at room temperature overnight, due to laziness.. I did it last night with pasta sauce even.. I always make sure to bring it back to a light boil though, or a hard boil if it's like chicken stock, veg stock, a soup, etc.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: SocksManly

                              Yes, "It's probably okay man" but if it wasn't.........

                              Belieeeeeve me, you do not want to find out the hard way it wasn't.


                              1. re: SocksManly

                                I'd have done the same as you did, fellow night-owl. My mom was born in 1906 in Germany, and raised in an apartment building there. There was no refrigeration - neither did they have meat very often but when they did buy it, they could not afford to waste it. She told me that if there was leftover meat it was put in the coolest spot available but often was slimy by the time of the next meal. It was rinsed off, heated, and eaten. My layman's philosophy is that such challenges to the intestinal tract are what keeps the immune system functioning well. An occasional case of the runs is probably not a bad thing. After all, people PAY to go to spas and have colonic cleansings! I wouldn't be surprised if folks like us had no ill effects from past-their-prime foods which would have our toss-it-out friends tossing their cookies. (Anyone who watches shows like Amazing Race and Survivor knows that some cultures enjoy rather putrid delicacies that the contestants' GI tracts can't handle.)

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  "greygarious" My mom and dad were also German immigrants. I can still remember the ice deliveries to our back door. The ice man used to come into the kitchen and deposit a large block of ice into the top of our ice box. The refrigerators of now-a-day are much more reliable and efficient. However, every once in a while we would have a piece of meat....that was not actually bad, but right on the brink and not so fresh anymore. My mother would take that piece of meat and give it a complete, thorough massage with kosher salt , rinse it well and then cook or roast. The trend with poultry these days is to brine for a period of time....think that will do the same thing for the chicken.

                                  That is why I like to brine poultry........even with poultry that seems to be OK. The salt takes care of any contamination that might unknowingly be present, and results in a moister, tender and tastier result. (Not to mention, cleaner!)

                                  But, if it really is smelly, and even a little bit with a slimy film......dump it!! Not worth the risk!

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    My husband grew up broke and he's like your parents--bacon a little green? Nothing that can't be cured by a good scrubbing and frying up. Really bad stuff---bad eggs, funky smelly mold, whatever, we all know it when we see it.

                                    And truth is, red meat in plastic DOES get slimy. Plus if you read anything about how meat is treated--and how it has been treated over the ages--rotting is a part of the process. there are similiar fish products---in Iceland they are partial to a fermented baltic herring that ---trustme!--tastes to the american palate like something that should have been tossed MONTHS ago. In Sweden, there is this rotted herring that comes in a can that you open under water because the smell is too awful.

                                    We may not like to think about it but pretty much all meat gets "hung" to break down a bit before we eat it. Think fine aged steak!

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Yeah sometimes our Canadian standards are a bit wacky when you look at what the rest of the world is doing... My wife is from Mexico, and they do many things that made me scratch my head at first. And whenever you bring up the science with them as to WHY we do the things we do - they say "calm yourself..." hahah.. ;)

                                      Eggs for example they don't keep in the fridge ever.. Not sure why. Maybe the eggs are processed differently, pasteurization, something like that I'm guessing.

                                      Saran wrap is very uncommon there.. Nobody uses the stuff. They just put things in the fridge wide open, uncovered. I tried explaining about spores, airborne bacteria that lands and starts to grow, etc.. They seemed to really like the idea of using it, but I'm not sure if they've adapted it.

                                      And buying fresh poultry at a market - STIIIINKY.. Not the chicken itself, but the chicken place at the market will have like a 25ft circle of stink around it. Totally unappetizing.

                                      As far as subjecting yourself to germs, I'm 100% with you on that. There's no doubt that you build an immune system by consuming things your body has never dealt with before, and as long as you're healthy and not really old, you'll be fine. I think the health complications come more from eating the same things over and over again, if there was some sort of toxins in them or whatever.

                                      1. re: SocksManly

                                        I believe - although I could be wrong - that most countries of the world don't refrigerate their eggs, anyhow. I don't, and haven't had any problems at all. My fridge is too small to take up that much space with egg containers. Eggs were kept without refrigeration for how many thousands of years, after all? :) I just make sure to break individual eggs into cups before using them, to make sure they're good when cooking... but then, I did that when I used to fridge them, too.

                                        1. re: Julesong

                                          When laid, there is a protective film over the shell - if the eggs are rinsed, as they are in commercial egg processing, this film is removed. Until I read this, although I never had a problem with the eggs I get from a local poultry farm, I was always a little nervous that the unrefigerated cartons were stacked atop the counter. Since the whites are often loose and the yolks flat when I'm frying them, I know that, although they taste great, they have been sitting on that counter for some days. I refrigerate them when I get home.

                                        2. re: SocksManly

                                          Read recently, and I have not the science t offer on this, once eggs have been refrigerated, or kept at refrigerator temperatures, they must continue to be kept that way. To then leave them at warmer temperatures creates the problem. For sure, the eggs are not processed differently, but the lack of processing - chicken to stove may be the explanation, as the eggs aren't travelling through many hands/machines/temperatures.

                                      2. re: JohnE O

                                        Aw, c'mon, yourself, JohnE O!! We are not stranded in a jungle or out on a dessert, having to eat strange, or spoiled, or "creepy crawlies", to maintain clinging to life. Eating is supposed a pleasurable part of living! Especially home cooked food from your own kitchen! Whatever I eat, I want to eat with "good appetite". As one of my high school science teachers once said, "If I can't get it past my nose, I won't put into my mouth". (Speaking of ripe Limburger) LOL

                                        1. re: JohnE O

                                          Actually, no I don't watch so-called "reality TV" at all - I'm not quite gullible enough to believe that "oh look! they have nothing to eat but the wichiti grubs they dig out of trees!!!"

                                          AND there's no need to eat food that stinks unless you're doing so knowingly and willingly. I love stinky cheese. I have, however, experienced the overnight joys of food poisoning and wouldn't wish that on anyone. Be careful out there!

                                          1. re: sophie fox

                                            In re-reading my post I noted that about 28 days after I posted I had another bout of "food poisoning". This time I got a CT scan which showed that it was kidney stones, not food poisoning as I had thought 20 years ago. The good news: it wasn't funky chicken that 'illed' me. The bad news: I guess I get to look forward to this type of fun every decade. woo-hoo.

                                        2. Interestingly, it seems that all those that are against ratting the chicken have had past experiences with food-poisoning. Seems to me the reason they've had food poison in the past is due to their phobias of not eating food that is slightly off. Being a immunologist, this just goes to show that you have to "challenge" your immune system for it to function properly when it is needed. Also, to the people that are only about "eating for pleasure", some of us are too poor to throw away food that may be slightly spoiled.

                                          1. I'm a procrastinator too, which is how I ended up here to see what everyone else has to say. I almost always end up cooking chicken after a week, although I have thrown it out before. Last night i decided to cook it (only needed someone else to say it was ok). Made a puff pastry chicken pot pie (sautee, then stew, then bake-about as safe cooking-wise as it's going to get). The pie was amazing and 12 hours later I'm still alive, happy and going for more. I would usually leave it out o'night to cool off, but thought I'd already pushed my luck enough as it is. Funnily enough, i will eat anything that isn't outright off - that I've prepared - and the only time I ever get sick from food is when I eat out...from a hotdog to highly rated restaurants, it doesn't matter, which makes me think ecoli more than anything (with my steel stomach, what the heck does it take to make me sick?!), but really - never from my cooking of what I consider to be borderline safe items...thus far. Fingers crossed.

                                            1. Meats that are questionable, when >just< on the "boarder-line'...be it beef or poultry...can be salvaged (if not gone too far) by taking salt and rubbing the salt really well over the entire piece of meat. Allow salt to work for ten, or so minutes...then rinse thoroughly.

                                              Learned this from my Mom, who used to do this during the "Big Depression Era" ....... when money was scarse and one could not afford to waste ANY food. In that respect, I think that brining is also a good practice....especially with poultry. Salt seems to halt any further deteriation, (slight smellyness - or smeary feel) >providing< your piece of meat is not gone too far. Of coarse, if your piece of meat has a definite, unmistakable smell and sliminess......THROW IT AWAY!!!

                                              1. When I was growing up, we were really poor. I was the cook in the house AND I was studying cooking in High School (was a great way to get some decent food). I was told by my teacher that if the meat was a tad slimy and "stinky" to "wash" it with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. I did this fairly regularly because on the rare occasions we could buy some meat, we did not have refrigeration to keep it fresh. I'm still here to tell the tale and I'm in my late forties! These days, I'm fortunate enough to not have to go to these lengths. I'm not posting this as a recommendation, just as a demonstration relevant to the post.

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: koshermasterchef

                                                  Why take the chance? A stay in the ICU is gonna cost you a lot more than 89 cent a pound chicken.

                                                  1. re: whs

                                                    What chance? The slightly "slick" feel and funky smell of a chicken past its prime are purely aesthetic issues. They have nothing to do with health risks.

                                                    Lots of people get sick from eating chicken infected by salmonella, campylobacter, and other pathogens that would have been destroyed by proper cooking. But those pathogens are present in the chicken when it's purchased. Similarly, too many people get sick from eating chicken that's been inoculated with staphylococcus or norovirus after cooking because person preparing it had contaminated hands. But again, this has nothing to do with whether the chicken was cooked immediately after purchase.

                                                    AFAIK, nobody has ever ended up in the ICU just because a chicken was a couple of days past its sell-by date. Ever. It doesn't matter how much a hospital stay costs, when you multiply that cost by a probability of zero, the answer is always zero.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      sorry, not that interested in saving $5. I'll eat a ripe cheese, but not a ripe chicken!

                                                      1. re: whs

                                                        Where we part ways is the question of whether a chicken should be viewed as a commodity. Spending $5 to allay an irrational fear is a purely economic matter. IMO, senselessly wasting an animal that has been killed for you to eat has moral implications.

                                                      2. re: alanbarnes

                                                        I disagree. My husband ended up in the ER after eating bad chicken that we bought from the local bodega. He was in a massive amount of pain and had to be pumped full of painkillers and have all sorts of expensive tests. Would have much preferred to avoid that.

                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                          Food poisoning is definitely no fun. But my point was that you're not significantly more likely to get food poisoning just because a raw chicken is a couple of days past its prime.

                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                            You're right, Christiana.
                                                            Adults are one thing but feeding mishandled and smelly chicken to a child with a lower body weight is very dangerous.
                                                            Anyone who doesn't think so is badly mistaken.

                                                      3. re: koshermasterchef

                                                        i've cooked slightly stinky chicken parts (I think thighs) in vinegar, cooked long enough for vinegar to reduce to almost syrupy glaze on chic; ate with no repercussions (actually were quite tasty!

                                                      4. I'm reading the Georganne Brennan cookbook on the cooking of Haute Provence. In one section they discuss game particularly woodcock. One person she was quoting liked to hang the bird by the feet until liquid stuff is dripping from the beak. . . .then they cook it and spread it on toast. This person's view of how long to allow something to uh, "ripen" was not unique.

                                                        A moment of silence to allow readers to visualize the woodcock hanging by the feet, dripping from the beak. . . .

                                                        okay so if one can hang a woodcock that long and then cook it and eat it and not only survive but repeat the performance as long as one can find woodcock. . . maybe we are all a bit over the top on the modern concept of fresh. . . .

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jenn

                                                          My mother, born and raised in France, once blew my dad and I away when she was the recipient of a couple of wild ducks. She had two of those big crockery jars that were used "back in the day" for pickles or whatever. She put one duck in each pot, feathers, innards and all, and put the lids on top and left them in a cool place for at least a week or more. She checked them daily to make sure they were okay (whatever that meant!) and, finally, after about 9 or 10 days, she took them out, plucked and gutted them, seasoned and roasted them. Not unlike my dad, I stared at the portion of duck on my plate, hoping to God I'd still be around the next day (one did NOT cross my mother!!!) and ate it. It was super and I lived! We used to raise pigeons at home, too. I finally developed an inability to open the fridge door because most often there'd be 4 or 5 dead pigeons, feathers and all, resting on a shelf, staring at me with dead eyes. I tried closing their eyes, but it didn't work very well. The pigeons were always good, too. However, I've never eaten it since...

                                                        2. Okay, I'm a whole lot late with this and probably will have every other hound throwing dead chicken at me, but here's what I've done: Opened a pkg of chicken that'd been in the fridge for a week (or so. . .). It didn't smell great and was slimy, so, following a tip I read somewhere, I broke out a box of baking SODA (NOT baking powder!!), and smeared all parts of the chicken with it, forming a paste. I rubbed the paste on every part of the bird, then rinsed it off well in cold running water (making sure to remove all trace of the soda). Voila! No bad smell and no slime. If you pat it well with paper towels, then cook it, it should taste fine. I don't know what baking soda does (or not) for the bacteria but I never got sick from it and I've done it 4 or 5 times.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: caiatransplant

                                                            I don't know the biochemistry of it either, but since baking soda is a deodorizer and acid neutralizer, it doesn't surprise me that this would work, as long as only the surface of the chicken was spoiling. Some restaurants use bleach, but just a water rinse is helpful. My mother was born in 1906 - no refrigeration during her urban European childhood, when if meat was slimy they rinsed it and recooked it. Maybe I inherited her robust immune system. I have often rinsed and eaten slimy cold cuts, and will cook and consume past-prime foods. The worst that ever happened is that the meal took the express route through the GI tract.

                                                          2. I'm more of a nightowl, but I'd have probably thrown it out. I get very suspicious about poultry in particular, and I periodically have to check with others to make sure I'm not smelling something off. It's the in-between slightly off smell that gets me -- when it's *really* off, there's never any doubt, yk?

                                                            Glad all was ok! :)

                                                            1. You are OK and AlanBarnes is spot on and greygarious is correct, as well. The paranoid wasters are what is wrong with America. I am low-budget but clean and I never waste. I have used meat, especially chicken, after a week or more in the fridge, HUNDREDS of times over the past 3 decades and have not gotten ill, even once. I do a quick rinse under slow water and a papertowel patdown to remove the slime and the odor. I season and cook it well. The older the meat, the spicier the dish.

                                                              I like your observation about nightowls, as I, like you, usually bed down around dawn. And, I like the baking soda tip from ciaitransplant, which I will employ in the future. Tonight, I am making Kung Pao Chicken with eight-day old boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The two I used two days ago were beginning to get slimy and smelly. I micro-waved them in barbecue sauce and ate them with veggies stir-fried in black bean sauce and garlic smashed potatoes. Yum. I look forward to the Kung Pao this evening.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: BlackEye

                                                                I'm also one of those who ignore the "throw away the marinade" mandate. Heck, if it flavored the meat, why throw away a good product? I do boil the heck out of it, and in 30+ years, never had a problem.

                                                              2. A trip to an open air marker in the third world, would help cure a lot of "stinky" fears or one would never eat chicken again. The smell of dead chicken was so over powering that my wife would not go to that area of the market., yet we never got ill from it. I hit that smell this past summer in an open air market in Seoul, ah the memories. I wonder more about the crap the agribusinesses add to our poor little chickies.
                                                                I too have aged game and live to type again!!!

                                                                1. This is a great thread. Last night I bought a "pasture raised" whole chicken from one of the nation's largest "natural foods" markets. I brought it home, and even though the chicken had plastic packaging, I could smell the stinky (ie "bad) chicken smell as soon as I took off the brown paper wrapping. I was upset, but it was late, I was tired, needed to eat, and wasn't about to get back in the car to exchange it. I threw caution to the wind. I rinsed the chicken and cut it in half. I got more worried when my wife yelled at our dog for farting. I said, "it's not the dog, it's the chicken, do you think it's ok?" She was hungry too so we decided to cook it. For me, this was a big mistake. Yes I was worried about getting sick but the thing that really got me was the fact that the stink permeated most every bite. I don't know, maybe I'm just oversensitive as my wife thought it was fine. Nonetheless, I lost all interest and hardly ate any. Yes, I was concerned about getting sick, but aside from some anxiety I didn't have any bad physical reactions.

                                                                  I guess my point is that other cultures meat aging techniques notwithstanding, personally, raw chicken with that funky smell really grosses me out, and when something disgusts you, for any reason, it's most likely it won't make for an enjoyable culinary experience. Not to mention the inherent dangers of spoilage. Next time I come across that smell, I'll wrap the meat back up, put it outside, and return it the next day.

                                                                  BTW, I took the 1/2 cooked chicken that was leftover back to the store today where they apologized profusely and gave me a full refund.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: potager

                                                                    I’ve had that stinky chicken experience too. Perhaps I’m naïve and spoiled by American factory produced poultry, but in my mind, if it smells rotten and tastes rotten, then it’s rotten.

                                                                    1. re: potager

                                                                      The part about your wife yelling at the dog is my favorite.....but a close second is getting a refund and apology for the stinky chicken!

                                                                      1. re: potager

                                                                        If you give the dog some yogurt in its food every day and if you're inclined, some other probiotics occasionally, too, your dog won't have gas after a few weeks. i had three dogs at one time, two of them old and one a German Shepherd, and they never had gas, or if they did, it didn't smell. I'm quite serious about that- it works like a miracle.

                                                                      2. Oh, I took the exact same slightly stinky chicken risk you describe here a few weeks ago. It was just slightly off and I thought maybe I would "cook it away" in the oven.

                                                                        It ended up tasting fouler than it smelled...

                                                                        1. It's probably fine but here are a couple of tips.

                                                                          Is it slimy feeling, Could be bad.

                                                                          Often times it is just the blood going sour.

                                                                          Mix water and vinegar... maybe 1 part vinegar 4 parts water. Rinse your chicken off with that pat it dry let it set for a few minutes. If it still smells or is still slimy, throw it out.

                                                                          Many years ago I worked at a restaurant that served chicken, that's what we did.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                            "Often times it is just the blood going sour."

                                                                            Do kosher and halal chickens keep longer?

                                                                          2. I hate that "just off" smell that chicken gets, and it happens so fast. But what I hate more than anything is when it's just off to the point that you aren't sure if you're really smelling an off smell, or if chicken just kind of stinks unless it's 100% fresh.

                                                                            Kind of like when you smell the milk and think you're imagining an off smell - you have to take the package around to every household member (except the really sensitive, terrified of expiration date members! - like my kid who will toss jams and jellies or mustards in the trash if he finds an expired "best by" date) to get their opinion. By the time you're done, you've got everyone convinced it "may" be bad.

                                                                            1. OK now I gotta ask. The sell-buy date on my chicken says June 18, today is the 20th. I opened it up and it doesn smell kinda odd. It was not slimey (but then I think chicken is slimey anyways haha) and currently I am marinating it in olive oil, spices and vinegar. My intentions it to brown it and then broil it. Would you eat this chicken?

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                                                                              1. There is a serious danger in eating spoiled meat because of the chemical toxins that are created. The danger is not the organisms, because they die when you cook it properly and your digestive system can handle the few that get through. The chemicals produced by the bacteria yeasts and molds won't wash away, since they can be right in the meat. It comes down to how much toxin and what kind. Botulism is rare, by why take that kind of chance if the meat is clearly bad. On the other hand, a slight smell is no big deal, so long as there is no discoloration or mold.
                                                                                The best article I found on this topic is wikipedia's page on meat spoilage.

                                                                                1. I tossed out some slighty stinky chicken last night. Was going to start my own sour chicken thread but found this one...

                                                                                  It smelled like somewhat sour milk - I didn't quiet see that description here yet. It was two boneless chicken breasts (an organic brand) purchased on 8/20, tossed on 8/22 with a sell by date of 8/29. Oh well, better safe than whatever.

                                                                                  I've surely eaten off chicken before, never quite got that smell off of a package. One breast had a normal pinkish hue, the other was looking more yellowish.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                      New here, but wanted to comment on this thread.

                                                                                      I've certainly smelled 'foul' 'fowl'. There was a time, when I was younger and healthier, that I simply washed it and boiled it off a little.

                                                                                      Not these days. IBS is awful enough without the aggravation of (possibly) contaminated foods. It makes me cringe to throw out leftovers, but I weigh the loss of money to the loss of well-being. (:

                                                                                      1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                        In that case I'd just wrap it in a plastic bag and return it for refund or exchange

                                                                                      2. It may be safe when thoroughly cooked, but what is most important is to clean up everything which might have become contaminated. Chicken can contain two dangerous pathogens, campylobacter and salmonella, which will multiply over time. The longer you keep a piece of chicken, the greater the probability of a leak.

                                                                                        I always keep packages of chicken wrapped in a plastic grocery bag in the refrigerator, to prevent leakage.

                                                                                        1. Back in the 70's I worked in a supermarket in upstate NY called Lloyds. The meat was amazing, everything was hanging. In those days, chickens didn't arrive wrapped. They were loose in a box. They all smelled badly and they were put in a water bath with a bit of clorox to get rid of the smell and then wrapped, cut up, etc. I think those chickens were better than what we get today. For example, (not a chicken) I thought I wanted a fresh turkey but the sell by date was 2 months later. How fresh is that? I'd rather buy frozen.

                                                                                          1. Interesting article on food poisoning from Scientific American:

                                                                                            That said, I am also inclined to do the nose test, rinse like crazy in ice cold water, then sniff again. If no smell, I'll cook it, but only in a dish like chicken casserole or soup where the meat is cooked for a loooooong time. My background is in food science, so I always, regardless of the meat or condition, check the temp of poultry with a pocket thermometer. Chicken has to be at least 160 Fahrenheit, or in a case like this I'd go much higher, above 200 for at least 15-20 minutes.

                                                                                            Biggest problem is that you don't know which bacteria might be growing. Many of the nastiest ones have no smell at all, so we're right back to buying/transporting/cooking/checking temperature of all meats when you're cooking. "specially chicken!

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                                                                                            1. re: applgrl

                                                                                              So our fridge-kept chicken breast, with skin on, was left in fridge 3 days after expiration date and did stink; I washed it with dish detergent rinsed VERY WELL, cooked, in glass fry pan [Pyrex] on medium to high heat for 20 minutes, turned once. Smells fine but IS IT REALLY OK? Should I give it to my two Chihuahuas??ground up and in tiny portions..or what?

                                                                                              1. re: GASTRIC

                                                                                                I don't think I'd go three days after expiration, but to each their own! I guess I have a sense of how much stink I'll put up with. There's a level of pungency even I don't cross.

                                                                                                1. re: SocksManly

                                                                                                  well it smells good after frying slowly, then steamed for another 10 min. so after it cooled, we tasted a few chards of it. like the smallest of small..we are still here. though some have said it takes up to 24hr to feel symptoms of food poisoning. One of us will check in in two days, hehe. Seriously we are dumping ti in the trash anyway!! Not worth the worry right?! thanks for the responses!

                                                                                                  1. re: GASTRIC

                                                                                                    Yeah I find the worst of it is that when you're concerned about whether something is going to make you sick or not, it becomes a lot less appetizing. I've also cooked too-far-gone chicken thinking I'd be alright, but then decided I didn't want to eat what I made because it just didn't seem appealing anymore.

                                                                                                    Having said that, I budget at least one day a year for food poisoning, because my wife is from Mexico and well.. You just can't do Mexico City properly without cleaning yourself out.

                                                                                                2. re: GASTRIC

                                                                                                  I use the sniff test as a guide and generally ignore expiration dates.

                                                                                                  For me the issue is not food poisoning, you can cook the heck out of the chicken to make it safe. The main thing for me is the stink tends to stick with the cooked chicken where the chicken will have a slight off flavor.

                                                                                                  I suggest just feeding it to the dogs.

                                                                                              2. There's also a thread asking how many people routinely wash/rinse chicken before cooking. Both topics were addressed on yesterday's Americas Test Kitchen Radio. Chris Kimball said that studies show rinsing actually aerosolizes pathogens and spreads them to more kitchen surfaces than one would imagine. They maintained that thorough cooking is a more effective germ-killer than rinsing. On the topic of using stinky chicken, Kimball disagreed with Bridget Lancaster. She belongs to the better-safe-than-sorry school, but Kimball said if the chicken smells a little off when he unwraps it, he rinses it, then sniffs it again. If it no longer stinks, he uses it and hasn't suffered any repercussions. I personally assume that submerging the chicken in a container of water, changing the water at least once, would greatly reduce the spread of pathogens as opposed to rinsing with the spray nozzle or under a running faucet.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  True. A dunking in salt water might help, but rinsing in the sink probably just makes it worse.

                                                                                                2. Before the days of factory processed poultry and super chillers loaded with antiseptic solutions, people used several different ways to "refresh poultry" before cooking. Lemon juice soak after rinsing and them rinse again before cooking is an effective standby for poultry and fish. Grated onions is popular in the Middle East, same process or leave in to tenderize during cooking. Garlic Ginger Scallions is 2 thousand year old in technique in China. Use ginger juice from minced or grated ginger to refresh poultry and whole fish for Indian and Chinese cuisine. It kills bacteria on contact. These techniques do not just cover up bacterial smells but react to kill the bacteria and make the smells go away. This problem is not new and meat can develop a smell in hours when sold in open air markets around the tropics.

                                                                                                  Cooking will destroy all pathogens (meaning you can't develop an infection from cooked stinky food) except the heat stable prions which are not found in poultry. Certain bacterial toxins are heat stable and will remain behind after cooking. The one I am thinking about is used to relax wrinkles when used sparingly but otherwise kills by paralysis, as the dreaded (and loved) Botulism toxin. Luckily most heat stable toxins are produced by anaerobic bacteria and those conditions will not happen with store bought poultry sold in its thin plastic wrap and kept under refrigeration. Stink is all relative and we have a very different perspective on stinky poultry compared to the rest of the world. I once ate hung pheasant with entrails intact during its weeklong journey to the ground. Now that was a stinky bird but oh so tender.

                                                                                                  1. I accidently touched my slightly stinky chicken to my face while smelling it, so now if I get sick I'll never know if cooking it made it safe. Dammit.

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                                                                                                    1. re: venjeff

                                                                                                      LOL!! This cracked me up! Thanks

                                                                                                    2. i'm continuing this thread, since it has turned into a Wiki with a lot of helpful information. i have 2 stories to offer. let me preface them by saying that i am a single mother of 4 young kids, and money is VERY tight. meat is a luxury, and i cannot afford to throw it out and waste:

                                                                                                      #1--last month, i brought home a package of chicken thighs, and it sat in the fridge for less than a week. at 2 days after the "sell by" date (not "best by"), my fridge was STINKING so bad, that I couldn't stand it. It reeked. I was not deterred, becuase it wasn't that old. I rinsed it, and started to cook it. the smell during cooking was SO BAD that I had to throw it out. it was nauseating to smell it cooking. STILL not deterred, I pulled the stinky shrink wrap out of the trash, and cut the label/price tag off the meat, and put it in a Ziploc baggie. The following day, I went to the same grocery store, and VERY politely told them the story. I even confessed that it was two days past the sell-by date. The cashier didn't even bat an eye, and just waved me back, saying, "No problem, just go grab another package that's about the same size! Don't even worry about it!" They didn't even ring up the transaction. I do not live in a small town, or a "friendly" area (Washington, D.C. suburbs.) It's nice to know, though, that the store may be willing to simply "eat" the cost of meat that goes bad, even if I should have cooked it a day or so earlier.

                                                                                                      #2--I have another package of chicken drumsticks in the fridge right now--bought from a totally different store. The drumsticks have a sell by from YESTERDAY, and I pulled them out to cook them today, and they smell. pretty bad. i have no idea why, I was prompt in getting them in the fridge. but this just goes to show you that sometimes even "fresh" chicken can have an odor these days. i'll try to post an update about what happens after i cook them. i'm inclined to try putting them in a curry or something that might "mask" anything "off" about them, since they should absolutely not be bad, as the sell by date was yesterday.

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                                                                                                      1. re: heyruthie

                                                                                                        Have you checked the temperature of your fridge? Perhaps it is warmer than you would expect. :(

                                                                                                        Also, here are some other considerations. Cryovac packed meats can smell funky even if they are okay. Beats me why. Also, are you buying the chicken marked down on the last sell-by date? Sometimes I wonder if packages get new dates when they are marked down for quick sale. Not saying this happens, just wondering if it might.

                                                                                                      2. Living single in the city and hating to waste, I was dismayed that I left a huge chicken breast in the frig long enough--maybe five days--for it to smell bad. But after reading some of these posts, I manned up and rinsed/wiped it, then thoroughly cooked it (chopped into bite-sized pieces) in some also timing-out spinach soup remains.

                                                                                                        Then I combined it with chopped garlic, onion, some aging-out bok choi, and a cheap but wonderful spicy Chinese Pepper Sa-Te Sauce (from "Caravelle," apparently based in Los Angeles). Plus rice simmered in the juice from all the above. The resulting improvisation was delicious, and I'm still standing.

                                                                                                        Conclusion: Most of us can experiment with smelly but not-so-old meat with a little patience and ingenuity. Admittedly, if I had children, I wouldn't be nearly so flexible. But I am my own science experiment, and so far there's been no horrific result.

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                                                                                                        1. re: dharv

                                                                                                          Thanks for this post. I have been battling with defrosted chicken that always this semi-sort-of-maybe-it's-there-maybe-it's-not smell and I can't decide what to do with it.

                                                                                                        2. OMG-- stinky chicken-- and chicken is one of the most dangerous foods in the supermarket. One of the only foods that they tell you to handle like a Nurse in a hospital. Wash hands thoroughly before and after, don't touch anything else, don't evcen touch your sink faucet!!!

                                                                                                          Eat stinky chicken??? It's bad enough to eat non-stinky chicken. Just throw it out!!

                                                                                                          I've encountered stinky chicken on sale at the market as well!

                                                                                                          1. hi everyone ...
                                                                                                            so i just threw out a pretty ruff smelling chicken ... i wasnt going to take a chance because i do have a 3 yr old son and i am currently 7 weeks pregnant ... i know if u cook it for long enough they say any bactéria goes away but i wasnt really sure if i wanted to take the chance.... also idk if it is because i am pregnant or not that it smeeled so bad but it smelled kinda like bad eggs ....

                                                                                                            also i do live in brazil and here they do things diferently ... the chicken was in the fridge a lil longer than i would usually leave it ...

                                                                                                            the meat wasnt as pink as it usually is and so i just got nervous about it in my state and for my son ...

                                                                                                            just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on it ... keep in mind im in brazil and im not really sure how they package the chicken here .... it was a full chicken and had the gibblets in the bag on the inside ...

                                                                                                            thanks everyone!

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: zago_nikki

                                                                                                              This site isn't really the place to come for medical advice.
                                                                                                              Many people would do as you did; others would rinse the meat in cold water, then smell it, and if it passed the sniff test, use it to make soup, since that involves long, thorough cooking. In general, geound meats are more likely to be contaminated than whole pieces, and chicken is more likely to be tainted than other poultry and livestock.

                                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                Where was she asking for "medical advice"?

                                                                                                              2. re: zago_nikki

                                                                                                                If chicken even makes you think "maybe its off" chuck it. The expense incurred by suffering food poisoning is far greater than the lost value of the chicken. Never worth it.

                                                                                                              3. I am very glad to see that I am not the only person who cleans and cooks "off" meats. I'm a night owl, by the way, so maybe there is something to our choice to live in the evening hours and eating dangerously? My revelation and decision to eat foods that some here would toss, came on three fronts: 1-I'm not rich and throwing out meat does not come easily, 2-Prime 'aged' beef, which I had with a well-to-do friend, made me realize that my beef (aged unintentionally in the fridge) had the same exotic flavor, and 3-A trip to London where I saw pheasants hung in a shop window (non-refrigerated and right out there in the sunlight). I had to ask! The shopkeeper told me that people would buy them when they fell! Their heads were looped over the hook and when the neck rotted enough for the body weight to pull loose, they were done! This made me realize that we Americas are wasteful whussies. But we will go pay top dollar for the same slightly rotted meat at an expensive restaurant.

                                                                                                                1. I know this thread is VERY old, but I wanted to add a little more food for thought, something I am dealing with currently.

                                                                                                                  Yesterday, we slaughtered our own chickens. It was our first time doing so and we took all precautions, including getting the meat on ice right after they were butchered.

                                                                                                                  It was VERY hot yesterday and after the birds had been in the cooler for three hours on ice, I decided they would be better in the fridge. NOW (24 hours later) when I open the fridge, the fishy smell coming from the chickens just assaults me!

                                                                                                                  I'm wondering now if the meat actually became warm and remained in the "danger zone" for too long, or if perhaps, this is just the smell of the dead carcass and maybe the "blood spoiling" also.

                                                                                                                  IDK. At any rate, I was always taught, "When in doubt, throw it out." Which I am having an incredibly hard time doing right now, especially since I know this is the "freshest" I can get. And they felt cooled (although, not chilled) when I took them out of the cooler to put in the fridge.

                                                                                                                  Anyway, I really appreciate everyone's stories here. It is helping me greatly decide what to do with these chickens. I think I am going to try a brine. And definitely another wash.

                                                                                                                  1. I bought a family size chicken breast pkg. left it in the frige about a week. when I opened it up it smelled but not too bad. I went ahead and cooked it. my grandson ate one breast. when I got a breast it tasted funny. I got nauseated so I threw it out. How long after eating something spoiled does it take to get food poisoning?

                                                                                                                    1. Hey Socks you still with us.....Uh OH maybe Socks hit the skids........... from my buddy Sal......

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                                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                        This ia an awesome group! My two cents is also that people waste food when unnecessary. Cooking week-old chix atm, have done before. Only salmonella I ever had was from ice cream (?!) as a child. I, too, believe that "too clean" is as deleterious to health as not clean enough.