Did We Ruin This Bird?
April 25, 2012 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Is this chicken safe to eat?

We bought a rotisserie chicken from a grocery story this afternoon, and upon returning home, stuck it directly in the fridge (totally didn't think anything of it at the time, lots of distractions with small children and such). It dawned on me that it may have been a bad idea when I pulled it out to start cutting it up and realized that it most certainly wasn't cold. I put the bird in the fridge about 3 hours ago. In an effort to keep from making my family sick, should we eat this chicken?? Everything I see online says that chicken should be cooled before refrigerating, but I've never done this before and can't find anything that says whether or not we should eat THIS bird.
posted by Happydaz to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
I have no idea how putting it in the fridge while warm would make it less safe to eat than leaving on the counter for the equivalent amount of time would. I think the reason you are meant to cool it first is that it is not great for other things in your fridge to have warm things added.

Imagine you had taken a three-hour detour home from the grocery store in winter, and your chicken had been in the car boot which had a temperature of 35 F. No problem, right?
posted by lollusc at 5:10 PM on April 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

Everything lollusc said. IIRC you can leave foods in the "danger zone" temp about 4 hours before problems arise. Enjoy your chicken!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 5:13 PM on April 25, 2012

It's safe...the reason you should avoid putting hot foods in the fridge is that it will warm your fridge a bit, causing it to kick into overtime, which is not an efficient use of energy. But there is no reason to believe your chicken is unsafe.
posted by puritycontrol at 5:21 PM on April 25, 2012

Think of it like this. To get from Hot to Cold it HAS to pass through the temp that you found it at when you removed it from the fridge, had you waited another hour it would have been colder and you wouldn't have thought twice about it. The chicken is fine.
posted by HuronBob at 5:27 PM on April 25, 2012

can't really tell without actual temps, but hot held food (120+) should be cooled to 41deg within 4 hours. you're absolutely fine on this one.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 8:36 PM on April 25, 2012

If you have a chicken that was largely clean and safe to eat when it went into an oven (rotisserie or otherwise) and it is cooked properly, then it is going to come out even cleaner since whatever nasties might have been on it (they're everywhere) are probably not going to fare well for an hour at 350°. In fact, if you put your chicken in some kind of sealed container and did something like this to it (and it was 1809) you would have just invented canning and you could just let it sit around at room temperature for years.

Obviously the bag your chicken came in is not quite on par with a canning jar but the chicken should have been virtually sterile when it went into the bag and will only need to be protected from pathogenic recolonization for the couple hours it takes for the chicken to get cold again.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:40 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done this and it was fine, but as others have said the temp when you put it in the fridge has nothing to do with it potentially making you sick.
posted by sm1tten at 9:07 PM on April 25, 2012

Eat it. Putting it in the fridge is only going to cool it quicker than leaving it out.
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on April 25, 2012

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