Chicken is one meat loved by millions of people. The kids like it, and I bet you also can’t do without chicken, right?
Aside from the fact that chicken is a whitey meat, it is also rich in protein and other nutrients compared to other types of meats. But can cooked chicken sit out for too long? How long can cooked chicken sit out?
In a nutshell, cooked chicken can sit out not more than two hours when the temperature is around 90°C. Cooked chicken left out for too long will grow bacteria, leading to food poisoning when consumed.
In this article, we will discuss, in detail, how long cooked chicken should sit out, as well as how to properly store your chicken to protect it from being contaminated.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?
Generally, foods shouldn’t be left out for a long time or below the room temperature, which is 27°C, for your safety and well-being.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked chickens are not expected to sit out for more than two hours when kept at room temperature. But if your room temperature is 32.2 degrees Celsius or warmer, cooked chicken can sit at room temperature for not more than one hour before going bad.
However, two factors should be seriously considered in this case!
1. Room Temperature
The normal room temperature is 27°C. If you live in tropical regions with high temperatures, it is wise to allow the cooked chicken to sit out for 1 hour but not more than two hours under room temperature.
The United States Department of Agriculture has stated clearly that cooked foods are prone to be contaminated from 40F to 140F.
High temperatures will proliferate the growth of bacteria that would lead to food poisoning when consumed.
The amount of moisture in the air also determines how long-cooked foods like chicken should sit out. When the humidity is low, the temperature increases, negating the rule of thumb, which states two hours to sit out at room temperature.
When the humidity is too high, it can also create an avenue for the bacteria to grow rapidly. To be on the safer side, the humidity should be moderate.
How To Know a Bad or Contaminated Chicken
Just as chicken is easy to cook, it also tends to be easily contaminated or go bad.
Often, a mere look at the chicken won’t be able to detect if a chicken is bad. We will explain below the ways you can know when your chicken has gone bad using the four senses.
They are simple; you cannot even find any suspected visual that shows your cooked chicken is bad.
1. Sense of Sight
The eye will often eat before the mouth. This means you can tell if the chicken is bad just from a look which could be a color change.
The color of chicken, especially the fried and roasted ones, is an inviting brown color. So, the absence of the above indicates that something is wrong with the chicken.
Furthermore, slight spots and layers of fuzzy on the meat are red signs that the chicken has been contaminated and should be thrown away. Check for any mold or fuzzy layer on the meat.
2. Sense of Smell
Another way you can detect a bad chicken is through the sense of smell. But there is a challenge. Guess what?
There are numerous recipes and spices used in preparing chicken. This makes it difficult for one to know when the chicken is contaminated or spoiled. But then, you need to be very sensitive here.
3. Sense of Feeling
Touching your chicken is another great way to know if you should discard that chicken. If the meat feels sticky or softer than before, you shouldn’t waste time getting rid of it.
It is better to starve yourself while being healthy than to get yourself poisoned by yourself.
4. Sense of Taste or Use of the Tongue
The tongue is a very sensitive organ. It has four taste buds: sweetness, saltiness, sour, and bitter.
Therefore, if you doubt the sense of smell and sight, taking a bit of your chicken into your mouth is the next step. Always watch out for any sour taste.
And yes, don’t forget to dispose of the spoiled chicken. It’s already food poisoning.
How Long Should Chicken Be Cooked?
Following the recommendation of The United States Food Safety and Inspection Service, it is advisable to cook your chicken for a minimum internal temperature of 165°F using a food thermometer.
Also, check the thickest part of the breast, wings, and thighs to ensure they are good to go.
How To Store Cooked Chicken Effectively
As we pointed out earlier in this content, food storage and safety are one of the numerous notes that shouldn’t be missed when it comes to handling food.
How best can we store our cooked food? Below are effective tips that can be utilized for proper food storage and safety.
1.Allow Your Chicken To Sit Out
It is very wrong to put your hot cooked chicken into the fridge. Apart from the fact that it will increase the fridge’s temperature, it can damage other foods there.
What would you do? The best thing to do is to allow it to cool to room temperature, which is 27°C, before putting it in the fridge. Again, don’t allow it to sit out for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning.
2. Keep Raw and Cooked Meat Separately
Keeping your cooked chicken and raw meat in the same place in the fridge is bad.
This is simply because the raw meat can spoil the cooked chicken easily since it tends to multiply bacteria rapidly and shouldn’t be left for a long while.
Moreover, raw meats should be wrapped very well to help reduce the growth of bacteria.
3. Avoid Long Storage
Do not store your meat for too long if you want to retain its taste and flavor.
You can store your cooked chicken in small dishpans. But don’t store for six (6) months; 1-3 months is advisable.
There are two misconceptions held firmly by most people when it comes to food storage and safety. Let’s know how true they are.
Many believe that storing cooked chicken in wraps can help limit the growth of pathogens in the meat.
However, such belief is wrong, as bacteria or viruses can grow rapidly, leading to food poisoning, which is detrimental to your health.
The best way to store your cooked chicken is to place them in the fridge or freezer for about 3-4 days, especially the leftovers.
Reheating foods regularly cannot guarantee that your food is safe, nor does it kill bacteria. It can even make the chicken lose its taste and flavor easily.
The best thing to do here is store it in the freezer or fridge and then reheat it using the microwave when you are ready to serve your chicken.
What happens when you eat chicken that was left out?
First, it is wise to know how long the chicken has stayed. If it has stayed for more than two hours, it should be discarded.
Furthermore, eating such chicken would lead to food poisoning, affecting your health. Would you risk your health for a piece of bad chicken? It is better to discard the chicken instead of risking that for headache, dehydration, nausea, and vomiting.
Is chicken still good when left for 8 hours?
No, it is not. Following the stipulations of The United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA), the chicken should not sit out for more than two hours. Sure, a lot happens in the kitchen, but then the fridge and freezer are there to help maintain food safety.
Can I eat chicken left out for 5 hours?
No, it is not advisable. The rule of thumb clearly states that such chicken should be discarded to avoid food poisoning. However, you can store it in your fridge or freezer for 3-4 days in a wrap.
How long can chicken sit out unrefrigerated?
Two hours! Though depending on the temperature, it is usually under room temperature. Always store your leftovers in the fridge and reheat using the microwave when needed.
How does bad chicken look or taste?
Generally speaking, the color of fresh chicken is golden brown, whether fried or grilled. With this, any change in the above indicates that something is wrong. Sometimes, you can’t tell if your chicken has gone bad with a mere look.
So, what should you do?
Check for its taste. Chew a bit of it and take note of any weird, sour or strange taste.
It is also worthy of note that flavors used in cooking the chicken can pose a threat. The best is to discard any chicken that has stayed more than two hours.
“Health is wealth,” and this starts with what we eat. Therefore, food safety and storage shouldn’t be missed. Avoid food poisoning at all costs.
Take care of yourself by making your health your number one priority.
As for the cooked chicken, always remember the rule of thumb. “Don’t allow your cooked chicken to sit out for more than two hours at room temperature.”
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