Look Before You Cook: Is That Turkey Still Safe?

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Look Before You Cook: Is That Turkey Still Safe?
Look Before You Cook: Is That Turkey Still Safe?

(WellnessPursuits.com) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be extending your trips to the grocery store. This may leave you trying to make do with what you have instead of going out to buy fresh foods — even if they’ve been in the fridge for a questionably long time. But how long is too long when it comes to the raw chicken or Thanksgiving Turkey? We have the answer here.

How Long Does Raw Poultry Last in the Fridge?

Raw, refrigerated chicken or turkey should be cooked within 1-2 days after you purchase it, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) guidelines. This applies to a whole bird, pieces or giblets.

Also, keep in mind that you must put your chicken or turkey in the fridge within two hours of bringing it home. If raw poultry is left at room temperature for any longer than that, it will grow dangerous bacteria, making it unsafe to eat – even after cooking it.

How to Make Your Chicken and Turkey Last Longer

To make sure your raw poultry doesn’t go bad, put it in the freezer immediately after bringing it home or within the first two days of purchase. A whole chicken or turkey will last up to one year in the freezer, according to the FDA. Poultry parts, such as breasts or thighs, can be frozen for up to 9 months. Giblets will last 3-4 months in the freezer.

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Another way to make your chicken or turkey last longer is by cooking it. Cooked chicken and other poultry will last in the fridge for 3-4 days. Fried chicken or chicken pieces will last in the freezer for up to 4 months, while cooked poultry dishes and broth or gravy-covered pieces can last up to 6 months. Leftover chicken nuggets and turkey patties can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Does the “Sell By” Date Matter?

Expiration dates might not matter as much as you’d think. According to the FDA, “sell by” dates are mostly intended for the store, rather than the consumer. Additionally, they’re just a guideline of how long the store and consumer can expect the product to maintain its flavor and quality.

As long as your poultry has been continuously refrigerated or frozen, it’s still safe — even if it’s past the “sell by” date. There are other signs that will let you know if your bird has gone bad. Some things to watch out for include:

  • Fading or darkening of the meat’s color.
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  • A foul odor.
  • Slimy, tacky or sticky texture.

No one wants to risk eating spoiled chicken or turkey. Following these tips can help ensure your poultry is fresh and tasty, whether you opt to cook it within two days of purchase or freeze it for later.

~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!

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