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January 27, 2008 2:55 PM   Subscribe

How long can chicken be frozen and remain good (as in not dangerous) to eat? Thanks
posted by Snyder to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Freezing has little to do with food safety. Your chicken can keep pretty much indefinitely as long as it is not exposed to cycles of thawing and re-freezing. Food becomes dangerous during it's preparation. If you thaw the chicken and then eat it undercooked, or store it improperly after cooking you could have a problem.

As with any frozen food, freezer burn may make the chicken not so tasty when it's thawed and cooked. The longer the food is frozen the more likely that it wont be so great when thawed. Then again if it's vacuum packed and stored properly it may be great for years.*

I recently ate some frozen chicken which had been in the back of my freezer for at least six months. It wasn't supper tasty, but it wasn't horrible either.
posted by wfrgms at 3:03 PM on January 27, 2008


Lifehacker says 6-9 months.
posted by The Deej at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2008


Purdue also says 6-9 months, depending on the chicken product, and assuming 0 degree storage soon after purchase.
posted by daisyace at 3:11 PM on January 27, 2008


Thanks for the help, everyone. I had some chicken that's older than that, and being very poor and very hungry was actually cooking some as i wrote this, but i will throw out this and the uncooked chicken. Thanks.
posted by Snyder at 3:18 PM on January 27, 2008


I would say 6 months if you want to be really safe, but food safety standards are not as helpful as your own senses. Thaw it in the fridge. Smell it before you cook it. If it smells bad or is slimy or just doesn't seem right, pitch it. Otherwise, cook the hell out of it and use strong seasonings to mask the freezer burn. God speed.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:20 PM on January 27, 2008


Food safety standards are designed so that food never gets to the point where it might be dangerous. Because not all toxins can be detected by our senses.

That said, freezing slows down bacteria growth so much that chicken probably wouldn't be dangerous to eat for a very long time. It will be freezer burned so badly you wouldn't want to eat it first. (Freezer burn is when the ice crystals encapsulated in the food pierce the cell membranes and either sublimates or grows into larger crystals piercing more cell walls.)

Food safety note: food does not necessarily become unsafe only during the prep time. It can come in to the kitchen contaminated, and then possibly become the agent of cross-contamination for other foods.
posted by gjc at 3:41 PM on January 27, 2008


The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has a series of fact sheets on safe food handling, including one on Freezing and Food Safety. It says "Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage." Their storage chart lists 9 months for frozen "Poultry, uncooked parts" but includes a reminder about the storage time: "Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely."
posted by RichardP at 4:12 PM on January 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's safe, but it might not be at 100% on the taste/texture scale.
posted by iguanapolitico at 5:39 PM on January 27, 2008


Well, I did have a couple of power failures for about a day in the time I had the chicken, so I'm gunshy about it, especially since it was a bit slimy. This pleases me that I can keep food indefinitely.
posted by Snyder at 5:46 PM on January 27, 2008


Snyder, the USDA FSIS also has a fact sheet Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, which includes information on how power outages affect food in refrigerators and freezers:
Q. Some of my food in the freezer started to thaw or had thawed when the power came back on. Is the food safe? How long will the food in the refrigerator be safe with the power off?

A. Never taste food to determine its safety! You will have to evaluate each item separately. If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when the power comes back on. If the appliance thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine the safety. Remember you can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for 2 hours.

Q. May I refreeze the food in the freezer if it thawed or partially thawed?

A. Yes, the food may be safely refrozen if the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. You will have to evaluate each item separately. Be sure to discard any items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices. Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat. See the attached charts for specific recommendations.
It also includes a handy charts for refrigerated foods and frozen foods, listing for each "When to Save and When to Throw It Out."
posted by RichardP at 6:07 PM on January 27, 2008


after about 3 or 4 months safety is no longer the issue. if you could eat that stuff you could eat anything. you might as well just take some cardboard and substitute it in your favorite chicken recipe. also, how safe it is now depends upon how fresh and bacteria free it was going into the freezer. if you are going to freeze it buy it frozen.
posted by caddis at 6:51 PM on January 27, 2008


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