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Don't want the nice chicken to go to waste
November 26, 2006 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Should I eat this cooked chicken in my fridge? 6-7 days old, and in a zip-loc.

Last Sunday or Monday (I really don't remember), my lovely girlfriend brought back three extremely tasty chicken breasts she got as take-out from a French restaurant. We ate one, and put the other two in a one gallon zip-loc freezer bag in the fridge.

Then we went to Chicago for Thanksgiving.

I'm back in SF now, and she's in Portugal for the week, and I don't feel like cooking from scratch or going out to get something today, if I can avoid it. Yes, it's bachelor time for me.

The chicken is covered in olives, some small, soft, dark things resembling peppercorns (yes, they were there when we ate it the first time), and I remember tasting some cranberry as well. The sauce seems to have congealed a little bit on to the meat, but doesn't smell gross. I just opened it now for the first time since we put it in there.

Please advise? If it's good, I'll stick it in the oven to reheat.
posted by stewiethegreat to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
My general rule with meat is that is it looks/smells ok, it should be good to eat. Hasn't failed me yet, but I wouldn't necessarily trust me on it ;). Maybe you could try just a nibble? If it was seriously bad, you'd know.
posted by sunshinesky at 12:14 PM on November 26, 2006


I'd say "no". If you knew how fresh the chicken was before it was cooked, then it'd probably still be good to eat; I eat week-old chicken all the time. But you don't know how long the chicken was sitting around at the take-out, how long the uncooked chicken had been held in the fridge, and so on. Err on the side of caution and toss it.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:14 PM on November 26, 2006


if you are all alone, does it really matter if you get a case of the squirts? Be adventuresome!
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:22 PM on November 26, 2006


No. Chicken is only good for 3-4 days in the fridge. A week is way too long.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:30 PM on November 26, 2006


And here's a link from the USDA to back me up.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:34 PM on November 26, 2006


I've found the general rule to be that if you have to ask if old food is edible, it usually isn't.
posted by huskerdont at 12:35 PM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


I also vote no. Note only has it been in your fridge for a week (and campylobacter doesn't smell or look weird, but will still make you terribly terribly ill), but you bought it back from a restaraunt. This indicates it was warm for a while before you put it in the fridge. That warm period bringing it home was quite possibly just right to kick start the bacteria which have then been very slowly dividing in your fridge over the last week (refridgeration slows bacteria growth a lot, but doesn't stop it or kill the bacteria, particuarly if there was already quite a lot in there and it's actively dividing already). Add onto that solid-one-love's points about not knowing the state of the chicken before cooking and you really have the potential for trouble
posted by shelleycat at 12:37 PM on November 26, 2006


if you are all alone, it does really matter if you get a case of food poisoning - expect an 8hr barf-fest and a 3 day recovery. Be extremely cautious.
posted by forallmankind at 12:56 PM on November 26, 2006


It's probably fine. If it still seems appetizing when you heat it up, I'd go ahead and eat it.
posted by desuetude at 1:04 PM on November 26, 2006


Chicken? A week? Uh, no.
posted by meerkatty at 1:12 PM on November 26, 2006


Is it slimy and smelly? If not, you should be ok.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:08 PM on November 26, 2006


The risk/reward ratio on this one just ain't there.

Risk: horribly ill for 1 to 3 days.

Reward: $2 worth of chicken.

Seriously, go buy a big mac and about the chicken.
posted by scheptech at 2:58 PM on November 26, 2006


When in doubt, throw it out.

so no on the week old chicken.
posted by special-k at 2:59 PM on November 26, 2006


Gotta toss the chicken. It's a shame because French chicken with olives, capers (peppercorn-looking thingies?) and cranberry sounds mighty tasty.

But you get no sympathy from me, bub, because unlike some of us, you live in a location where food delivery is available, so pick up the phone and order a pizza.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2006


My general rule with meat is that is it looks/smells ok, it should be good to eat.
If it still seems appetizing when you heat it up, I'd go ahead and eat it.
Is it slimy and smelly? If not, you should be ok.


Untrue and all dangerous advice.

You can't always tell if food is toxic. Many bacteria or bacterial toxins don't smell. They don't taste bad. Food doesn't need to be slimy or gross to hurt you. Food can make you very sick while still 'seeming OK'. All the people saying otherwise above are giving terrible terrible advice.

There is no reason for us to continue getting food poisoning, yet the CDC estimates 325,000 hospitalisations per year in the US from food borne illness. These weren't people with no sense of smell or low intelligence or whatever, they were people who don't get that food can go bad without showing any outward signs.

Guidelines about how long to keep things are based on solid research and disseminated for a reason. Follow them. And yeah, if you have to ask or have any doubt then throw it away.
posted by shelleycat at 5:04 PM on November 26, 2006


I've had food poisoning twice in the last year. Trust me, you don't want to take the chance.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on November 26, 2006


I only cook once a week, chicken is almost always one of the items I prepare, and so I frequently eat chicken that was cooked six or seven days ago. It never occurred to me that I shouldn't. But then I cooked it myself and put it away immediately...
posted by orange swan at 5:19 PM on November 26, 2006


shelleycat knows whereof she speaks. Listen to her.

if you are all alone, does it really matter if you get a case of the squirts? Be adventuresome!

The squirts are not just unpleasant, they can be severe enough to be fatal without treatment - that's how people die from salmonella. However, they are far from the only consequence of food poisoning. This advice is moronic und unhelpful.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:30 PM on November 26, 2006


Thanks to all for the the thoughtful and insightful advice - I threw the chicken out, with a heavy heart.
posted by stewiethegreat at 5:41 PM on November 26, 2006


You fool! You should have waited at least a week, until this page accumulated a fuller breadth of opinion!
posted by dansdata at 11:04 PM on November 26, 2006


As a restaurant owner, please... throw the food away. It came from a restaurant kitchen. You have no idea how long it was stored there, whether it was stored properly, how long it stayed out in the open, etc.

Shelleycat is the one dispensing good advice here. "Smells funky" is NOT a reliable indicator of food unfit for consumption. Food poisoning is not pleasant (I'm still recovering from a bout, having eaten some street food), and can leave you weak and tired. It's not something to be "adventuresome" about. Not unless you find the prospect of rushing to the loo and/or throwing up an adventure you want to try.
posted by madman at 11:48 PM on November 26, 2006


"Smells funky" is NOT a reliable indicator of food unfit for consumption.

Actually, to be pedantic, it is a pretty reliable indicator of hazard. It's just that "doesn't smell funky" is not a reliable indicator of safety.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:01 AM on November 27, 2006


Anybody who does tertiary study in microbiology gets to know very quickly that chicken is the food that poses the greatest overall risk when it comes to food borne illnesses.

Whether cooked or raw, it will always grow a wide variety of potentially nasty bugs when swabbed. This is why it should always be covered - particularly when it is near any other foods like salads and vegetables because bugs do jump from one plate or dish or container to the next. ie. it should be covered or in a bag when either cooked or uncooked and shouldn't be left out or near other foods for longer than, you know, regular serving time at dinner.

This is also the reason I will never ever eat chicken (or other foods stored near it) from bain maries (warming trays at food shops) -- they have notoriously poorly calibrated or maintained temperature guages and cooked foods need to kept heated at >55 degrees celcius or <4 degrees celcius in a fridge at all times, save for during meal serving, to maintain a safe level of bug and bug toxins.br>
Come the revolution, my first job as Food Overlord will to make food health and safety courses mandatory for anyone involved in catering (oh hell, my administration will make them mandatory in schools too!). A 2 day course ought to be enough to *cough* inoculate workers with the very simple and general, non-breakable rules for handling food.

So personally speaking, I wouldn't eat chicken, even if stored according to my mandatory rules, after the passage of 2 days from entering the fridge. If I didn't prepare the chicken personally then it would only be 1 day.
posted by peacay at 3:33 AM on November 27, 2006


Capers and cranberry sauce? blech. Doesn't sound appealing.

I would throw it out. My rule is usually throw it out after four days (less for take out leftovers).
posted by GS1977 at 2:37 PM on November 27, 2006


"A 2 day course ought to be enough to *cough* inoculate workers with the very simple and general, non-breakable rules for handling food."
posted by peacay at 9:33 PM AEST on November 27

It dosen't help that you're coughing all over it.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:35 PM on November 27, 2006


Anybody who does tertiary study in microbiology

Just the mere mention of Swiss Chalet was enough to give my micro prof the howling fantods.
posted by docgonzo at 6:22 PM on November 27, 2006


Anybody who does tertiary study in microbiology gets to know very quickly that chicken is the food that poses the greatest overall risk when it comes to food borne illnesses.

Should I mention I barely passed second year micro? Like literally by one percent? I switched to physiology after that.

However, I've never had food poisoning either. I'd keep my own cooked chicken for a week (no longer) because I know what's been done with it, and take out two days, possibly three. In this case it's all the unknowns that ring alarm bells.

On the upside an olives and capers type sauce is pretty easy to make. I use button mushrooms, black olives, well-rinsed capers and cream. You could add cranberries or tomatoes or whatever. Brown and mostly cook through the chicken on a medium-high heat, add the sauce ingredients and finish cooking on a med-low heat (five minutes or so) and don't burn the cream. Works great with eye fillet beef too. I'm a terrible cook and can still manage this.
posted by shelleycat at 1:17 AM on November 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


An interesting point about food aspect or smell NOT being a good indicator of food safety is that people do eat things that smell funny, like Roquefort cheese , which gets its taste from its characteristic MOLD , penicillinum roqueforti.

An obligatory Food Microbiology wiki link and a nice flash animation with sound
posted by elpapacito at 6:19 AM on November 28, 2006


So throwing it in the microwave isn't enough to kill all the bacteria?
posted by empath at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2006


So throwing it in the microwave isn't enough to kill all the bacteria?

My understanding is that nuking for a few minutes is normally enough to kill the bacteria, but it won't do a thing about the toxins that the bacteria produced while they were still living - those will still be there in the food, and will make you utterly miserable.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2006


Ironically I now find this thread after flying back from my mother-in-law's Thanksgiving dinner.

She left her turkey out 24 hours along with everything else then reheated and served the leftovers.

I was the only one sane enough to just eat pie for dinner that day.

My husband now wishes he had followed my example. I will spare you the details.

Glad you tossed the chicken out.
posted by konolia at 6:07 AM on November 29, 2006


A friend of mine, who is a microbioligist, was in Japan with a group of microbiologists. At dinner their hosts served them raw chicken! Imagine the horrified looks on their faces. They ate it and no one got sick. So, I guess it is possible to eat raw chicken without getting sick. I am sure the growing and preparation procedures are quite different for chickens that will be served raw.

That being said, I think a week is too long, 3 or 4 days as in the FDA link seems about right and I have never gotten sick from properly stored cooked chicken within that window. I think peacay is probably over-cautious. The thing is, if you do get sick from bad chicken it will make you miserable. You did the right think pitching it.
posted by caddis at 2:11 PM on November 29, 2006


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