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Cooked chicken is a delicious and healthy source of protein, and it’s no wonder that it’s a staple in many people’s diets. However, sometimes we cook more chicken than we can consume in a day or two, and we’re left wondering if it’s still safe to eat after a few days in the fridge. In this blog post, we’ll explore the question of whether or not you can eat cooked chicken after 7 days in the fridge.
The science behind food spoilage
To understand whether or not it’s safe to eat cooked chicken after 7 days in the fridge, it’s important to understand the science behind food spoilage. When food is left at room temperature, bacteria begin to grow and multiply rapidly. This can lead to foodborne illness and can make you very sick. However, when food is stored in the fridge, the cold temperature slows down the growth of bacteria, which helps to keep the food safe to eat for a longer period of time.
Even though the cold temperature of the fridge slows down bacteria growth, it doesn’t completely stop it. Eventually, bacteria will begin to grow and multiply, even in the fridge. The length of time it takes for bacteria to grow to unsafe levels depends on a variety of factors, including the type of food, the temperature of the fridge, and how the food was prepared and stored.
How long can cooked chicken be stored in the fridge?
When it comes to cooked chicken, the general rule of thumb is that it can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. After that, the risk of foodborne illness increases significantly. However, this is just a guideline, and there are a few factors that can influence how long cooked chicken can be safely stored in the fridge.
One of the biggest factors is how the chicken was cooked and stored. If the chicken was cooked to the proper temperature (165°F) and was stored in an airtight container, it will generally last longer in the fridge than chicken that was not cooked properly or was stored in an open container. Additionally, if the chicken was stored in the back of the fridge where the temperature is colder, it may last longer than chicken that was stored in the door where the temperature can fluctuate more.
How can you tell if cooked chicken has gone bad?
Even if cooked chicken has been stored in the fridge for less than seven days, it’s still possible for it to have gone bad. There are a few signs that can indicate that cooked chicken is no longer safe to eat. The first is a foul smell. If the chicken smells off or sour, it’s a good indication that it’s gone bad. Additionally, if the chicken has a slimy texture or if there is any visible mold growing on it, it should be discarded immediately.
Another way to tell if cooked chicken has gone bad is to pay attention to how it looks. If the chicken appears to be discolored or if it has started to dry out, it may no longer be safe to eat. Similarly, if there are any signs of freezer burn, such as white or grayish-brown spots on the chicken, it should be discarded.
Can you extend the shelf life of cooked chicken?
If you want to extend the shelf life of cooked chicken, there are a few things you can do. One option is to freeze the chicken. Cooked chicken can be stored in the freezer for up to six months, which is much longer than it can be stored in the fridge. Just be sure to store the chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
Another option is to reheat the chicken before consuming it. When you reheat cooked chicken, you should make sure that it’s heated to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have started to grow on the chicken. It’s also important to reheat the chicken only once, as reheating it multiple times can increase the risk of foodborne illness.
Finally, if you want to extend the shelf life of cooked chicken, you can consider using it in a variety of different recipes. For example, you can use cooked chicken in soups, stews, casseroles, or salads. By using the chicken in a different way, you can make it more enjoyable to eat and reduce the risk of it going bad before you have a chance to consume it.
How to safely store cooked chicken
To ensure that cooked chicken lasts as long as possible in the fridge, it’s important to store it properly. The best way to store cooked chicken is to put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge as soon as possible after it’s been cooked. If you’re storing the chicken in the fridge for more than a day or two, you can consider dividing it into smaller portions to make it easier to reheat and consume later.
Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of how long the chicken has been in the fridge. If you’re not sure how long it’s been stored, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard it. It’s also important to avoid cross-contamination by storing the chicken separately from other foods in the fridge.
In conclusion, cooked chicken can generally be stored in the fridge for up to four days. However, this can vary depending on a variety of factors, such as how the chicken was cooked and stored, the temperature of the fridge, and how the chicken is reheated. If you’re not sure whether or not cooked chicken is still safe to eat, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard it. By following proper food safety guidelines and being mindful of how long the chicken has been stored, you can reduce the risk of foodborne illness and enjoy delicious, healthy cooked chicken for days to come.