– Why is raw chicken safe to store in the fridge for only 1 – 2 days according to USDA if the expiration date on the packaging says 1 – 2 weeks (for example)

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USDA source: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/poultry/chicken-farm-table

In: Biology

1-2 days is the best, safest, and most fresh, 1-2 weeks is the absolute max, but please do not eat any chicken that is over 5-7 days out, and trust your nose and eyes.

Looking at that article, it looks like the 1-2 day mark is only for chicken that you buy frozen, thaw, and then keep in the fridge for a few days. The difference there is that the chicken likely isn’t plastic-sealed. Meat that is packaged and sold fresh (not frozen) is as sanitary as they can make it – it’s meant to last several days in the fridge without going bad, but once you break that plastic seal, you’ll want to use it within a few days.

Frozen meats are not usually sealed the same way, because freezing kills bacteria anyways. Once you thaw it out, the meat starts to become a little more vulnerable to the bacteria that are in your kitchen or fridge, and it’ll start going bad within a few days. The USDA is always going to err on the side of safety, so a little more than 1-2 days may be fine depending on your fridge temp and how you thawed the chicken, but it’s not something you want to take chances on.

1-2 days is a piece of raw chicken on a plate covered with plastic wrap.

1-2 weeks would be for chlorine washed chicken inside the sterile part of the plant sealed under controlled conditions without any air in the airtight package.

The packaging is done in a sterile environment and the package protects the chicken from any outside contaminants. However the USDA guidelines assumes that you are dealing with unpackaged chicken which you have either butchered yourself or bought from a butcher. Even if you package it in air tight plastic there have been bacteria and fungi from the atmosphere which have contaminated the chicken. Low amounts of contaminants are still safe to eat, you breathe the same atmosphere which contaminated the chicken in the first place. However once the bacteria and fungi have infected the chicken it will start to multiply and become numerous at which point they will produce enough toxins for it to be harmful to eat. You do not want this to happen. On the other hand the USDA issues guidelines for consumers and your mileage may vary. Chicken might be an exception with the dangers of salmonella but in general if the food looks good, smell good and taste good that it have probably not gone bad yet.