How Long is Chicken Good for After Sell By Date? | Avoid Waste

Navigating the nuances of food safety can often feel like deciphering an intricate puzzle, especially when it comes to understanding the shelf life of everyday staples like chicken. With “How Long Is Chicken Good For After Sell By Date,” we delve deep into the complexities surrounding chicken storage, offering you a comprehensive guide that not only answers this pivotal question but also equips you with the knowledge to ensure the chicken you consume is both safe and delicious. Our expertise on the topic stems from rigorous research and consultations with food safety experts, ensuring that the information provided is accurate, reliable, and practical.

In this article, we unravel the mysteries behind sell-by dates, distinguishing them from use-by and best-by dates to clarify what these labels mean for your chicken’s freshness and safety. We explore how factors such as storage methods, temperature, and packaging can extend or reduce the shelf life of chicken beyond the sell-by date. Our aim is not just to inform but to empower you with the knowledge to make informed decisions about storing and consuming chicken, reducing food waste while prioritizing health and safety.

Curious to know if that chicken in your fridge is still good to eat a few days past its sell-by date. Wondering how to tell if chicken has gone bad, or how you can safely extend its shelf life? Join us as we answer these questions and more, providing you with practical tips, essential insights, and the confidence to handle chicken with care in your kitchen. This article promises to be an invaluable resource for anyone looking to demystify the sell-by dates of chicken, ensuring every meal is not just safe and nutritious but also contributes to a more sustainable and conscientious approach to food consumption.

Understanding Sell-By and Use-By Dates

Deciphering Date Labels

  • Sell-by date: Recommended date for the store to sell chicken. Allows home storage time.
  • Use-by/Expiration date: Final date chicken should be eaten for best quality.
  • Best-by date: Estimated peak quality timeframe.

Chicken Safety Beyond the Date Labels

Dates indicate peak freshness rather than safety. Use smell, color, and texture to assess older chicken:

  • Unsafe signs: Slimy texture, foul odor, sticky or tacky feel, discoloration
  • Safe signs: Firm and bounces back when pressed, no odor

Discard chicken if unsure. Don’t taste to determine if bad.

Understanding Sell-By and Use-By Dates
Understanding Sell-By and Use-By Dates

How Long Is Chicken Good For After Sell By Date?

Fresh chicken is usually good for up to 2 days after the sell-by date if stored properly in the fridge. The USDA recommends cooking or freezing chicken within 1 to 2 days of purchase. While it may still be safe to consume chicken 3 days beyond the sell-by date if it shows no signs of spoilage, it is best to use your judgment and discard it if unsure. However, consuming chicken that is 5 days past the sell-by date is not recommended due to the risk of bacterial growth and food poisoning. It is advised to cook or freeze raw chicken within 1 to 2 days of purchase, so consuming chicken two weeks after the sell-by date is not recommended for safety reasons.

Storage (Raw) Fridge
Shelf Life (Raw, Fridge) 1-2 days
Date Indicator Sell-by Date
Date Significance Quality Assurance
Consumption Window (Raw) 1-2 days (even after Sell-by Date)
Source Information

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Preparing After Sell By Date Chicken Safely to Store

Defrosting Techniques

  • Refrigerator: Safest method. Thaw in fridge 1 day for every 5 lbs.
  • Cold Water: Faster option. Submerge the sealed chicken in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • Microwave: Quick method. Use the “defrost” setting and cook immediately after thawing.

Cooking Chicken to Perfection

Chicken Type Minimum Safe Internal Temp
Whole chicken 165°F
Chicken breasts 165°F
Chicken thighs/legs 175°F
Ground chicken 165°F


  • Use a meat thermometer to verify the temperature.
  • Let chicken rest for 3 minutes before carving to allow juices to set.

Reheating Cooked Chicken

Only reheat cooked chicken once. Heat to 165°F. Bring soups and sauces to a boil. Use the microwave if reheating immediately.

Storing Chicken After Sell By Date Safely

Raw Chicken Storage

To prevent bacterial growth, raw chicken should be stored at temperatures below 40°F. The USDA recommends setting your refrigerator to 40°F or lower and minimizing opening the doors. Raw chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. For longer storage, freeze raw chicken at 0°F or colder for 9-12 months. Use sealed containers or bags when freezing.

Cooked Chicken Storage

Cooked chicken should also be refrigerated at 40°F or below. Store cooked chicken in shallow, covered containers to allow rapid cooling. Refrigerate cooked chicken within 2 hours, and use within 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze cooked chicken for 4-6 months at 0°F.

Avoiding Cross-Contamination

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw chicken.
  • Never place raw chicken above other foods in the fridge. Store raw chicken below ready-to-eat items.
  • Clean surfaces, utensils, and hands thoroughly after handling raw chicken.

Advanced Storage and Preservation Techniques

Alternative Preservation Methods

Methods like canning, curing, and smoking allow long-term chicken preservation when done properly. Follow trusted recipes and USDA guidelines. Improper technique risks botulism.

Impact of Packaging Technology

Vacuum sealing removes oxygen to extend freshness. Modified atmosphere packing utilizes gases like carbon dioxide. When used properly, these innovations can prolong raw chicken’s shelf life.

What to Do If Chicken Spoils Before the Sell-By Date?

Occasionally, raw chicken may show signs of spoilage before its sell-by date. This can occur from disruptions in the cold chain during transportation or storage. If this happens, do not prepare or consume the chicken. Contact the store where it was purchased for a refund or replacement. When in doubt, remember the adage – “when in doubt, throw it out.” Don’t risk getting sick from iffy chicken. Keep a vigilant eye out for any foul odors, sliminess, or unnatural colors before cooking it. Play it safe and discard chicken at the first hint of spoilage.

What to Do If Chicken Spoils Before the Sell-By Date?
What to Do If Chicken Spoils Before the Sell-By Date?

Conclusion: How Long Is Chicken Good For After Sell By Date

Sell-by dates serve to guide grocery stores, not consumers, on chicken’s peak quality period. While best purchased before this designated date, raw chicken can still be safely frozen, cooked, and eaten within 1-4 days after it. Monitor refrigeration temperatures diligently, check for any odd textures or smells, and cook thoroughly. Employ food safety best practices when handling raw chicken. With proper storage, handling, and cooking, chicken can be enjoyed past its sell-by date without worry. But when in doubt, remember it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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