Slightly eggy smelling cooked then frozen chicken ok to eat?
November 7, 2012 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Is cooked then frozen chicken with a mild eggy smell ok to eat?

I bought some fresh refrigerated raw chicken breasts, then froze them for a couple weeks. A few days ago I thawed them overnight in the refrigerator and cooked them. I let them cool for a half hour then I froze the (thoroughly) cooked chicken. Now when I smell the chicken it has a mild egg smell to it. It had no smell at all before I cooked it and the cooking process did not involve any egg, only olive oil. The smell is mild in that it smells eggy, but it does not smell rotten or spoilt otherwise.

Generally I'm paranoid enough about food safety that any suspicious smell means the food goes right out, especially with meat, but given that I had frozen this immediately after thoroughly cooking it in a manner I have done many times in the past with no smell and no issue, I'm questioning if I'm just being paranoid. If it makes a difference this is a brand of chicken I haven't used before (Trader Joes organic chicken).

I have suffered no power outages or otherwise had any reason to suspect the freezer was not at the proper temperature the entire time the chicken was in there, both before and after cooking.

Am I being paranoid, or is this chicken better off binned?
posted by 1024x768 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is this smell obvious after reheating the chicken breasts or just after re-thawing?
posted by marimeko at 5:17 PM on November 7, 2012

I think good chicken smells like eggs, but that's just me.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:19 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Unless that eggy smell is actually a sulphurous smell, I'd probably be okay with eating it. Who knows, it could have absorbed odors from other food at some point.

On the other hand, if I instinctively sensed something "off" about it, I'd play it safe and toss it out. It's worth tossing a small amount of probably-good chicken to avoid food poisoning.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:32 PM on November 7, 2012

Blech, that is my least favorite smell in the world. That has happened to me, too, at my neighborhood Trader Joe's - sometimes the chicken you buy at the store just isn't that fresh. I would return the chicken to the store and ask for a new pack (make sure you pull from the back of the fridge where it's super cold!) Trader Joe's is perhaps the coolest place about returning things, so I would just tell them what happened and either ask for a refund or get new chicken.
posted by emily37 at 5:47 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

No, chicken only tastes and smells like eggs when it is eggs.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:16 PM on November 7, 2012

I am pretty worrisome when it comes to food safety - but this wouldn't bother me at all. Especially since you describe the smell as mild. It could have picked up some odors from your freezer. If you have any doubt though, it's worth the peace of mind to just chuck it in the bin.
posted by gnutron at 6:47 PM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: marimeko - I have not tried to reheat the chicken, this is the smell that is present from the still frozen chicken. The general freezer smell is not eggy at all. I suppose I could see if reheating it would cause the smell to dissipate. I'm guessing if there was anything wrong with it, reheating it would probably make it smell worse, not better.
posted by 1024x768 at 7:23 PM on November 7, 2012

Chicken meat commonly has sulphurous odors, as do eggs, and strawberries for that matter. However, that is true whether or not spoilage has occurred. Chicken seems to get more odorous when cooked in acidic liquid, though I don't pretend to understand the chemistry.

The pungent rotten egg smell occurs when spoilage and sulphur combine, but that's so distinctive I would be surprised if anyone confused it. Especially since you had good temperature control, I would eat it without hesitation. Most life-threatening foodborne illness is odorless, colorless, and tasteless anyway, so I would rely on my cooking over my nose (seafood is an exception).
posted by wnissen at 10:15 PM on November 7, 2012

Not sure. We had some chicken that, while it should have been fresh, smelled a bit 'eggy'. I decided to cook and eat it anyway, but when we tried it, it tasted eggy too, and that was worse than the smell. The meal ended up being mostly thrown out, although neither my wife nor I were ill as a result.
posted by pipeski at 1:53 AM on November 8, 2012

Did you store, defrost, prepare or cook the chicken in containers, bowls or pans that you also use to cook eggs?

I've noticed that in cafes I frequent that do a roaring breakfast trade (which in my part of the world means lots of poached, scrambled and fried eggs) the plates, cutlery and even the water glasses carry an undeniable 'eggy' smell even though they appear perfectly clean. It's not bad or sulfurous but definitely eggy.

Someone once suggested to me that it was due to all the egg residue being emulsified and re-cooked in the dishwashers; basically cooking egg leftovers in a thin protein glaze over everything in the dishwasher load at the relatively high temperature of a commercial dish-washing machine.

I've noticed it at home too, when I have washed plates and a pan I have used to cook and consume scrambled eggs (or maybe French toast?). I rarely eat eggs at home partly for this reason. I call it "egg-dishwasher-transference".
posted by evil_esto at 2:33 AM on November 8, 2012

I just don't like that taste. I don't like the taste of reheated chicken AT ALL.

If you mask it with a sauce or use it in a recipe, it should be okay. It should taste okay if you make it into chicken salad.

It's safe to eat, I just think it tastes gross.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:34 AM on November 8, 2012

I am sensitive to smells. I sense all chicken smells like egg - particularly noticed with raw or unseasoned, cooked chicken. That makes sense as otherwise the seasoning would overwhelm the egg smell. I think it makes sense as eggs come from chickens and vice-versa. Do you otherwise smell raw, fresh or unseasoned chicken to know what it usually smells like? Sulfur is different than egg and would indicate not fresh to me. Also mildly rotting is very different than egg smell.

I find some eggs have a stronger smell than others. Same with the chicken. I think it has to do with the feed. I buy my eggs from a local farm and never get that "egg-dishwasher-transference" (thanks, evil_esto) - vegetarian feed may be a contributor?

Travelling this weekend I grabbed a couple hard-boiled eggs from the hotel buffet that were so strongly smelling of eggs that I couldn't eat them. Also the color of the yolks was so pale as to be closer to the white than actual yellow. Again, feed related?
Many years ago I worked at a dog kennel. We fed the uneaten dog food to the ducks living in the pond in the back. Once we got one of the duck eggs and cooked it. Smelled like dog food. Coincidence? I think not. Feed matters.
posted by kimmae at 6:36 AM on November 8, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm guessing it's probably ok as long as the smell dissipates completely when heated. Just to be extra-safe I'll thoroughly braise it when I reheat it to remove any lingering trace of bacteria.
posted by 1024x768 at 4:31 PM on November 8, 2012

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