Is Chicken with a Sell By Date of 2 Days Ago That Has Been in a Refrigerator That Promises Me It is 36 Degrees Still Safe?

I purchased it 5 days ago. I know I should have frozen it if not used within 2 days but this is one of those things that did not go as planned. It looks ok. If it passes the smell test am I good? I'm planning to use it in a chili so it will cook for a good 40 minutes or so - could be longer. Thanks in advance!

  • Posted by: allekas
  • April 13, 2020


Nancy April 13, 2020
Allekas -
I'm guessing you asked this question because you have your own doubts about the safety of this chicken.
Which side of the argument carries more weight with you?
allekas April 14, 2020
Good question, Nancy. I’ll say that I’ve never understood why the grocery store gets to leave meat out in its cases until the sell by date, why there are multiple recommendations that I can eat stuff after it’s sell by date if I buy it at its sell by date - like Barbara shared - but for some reason as soon as it gets to my fridge it has a two day clock. So I’ll say that I doubt the arbitrariness of all that. This did push my limits as it’s *after* the sell by date. On the advice of a friend/former chef I chose to do a small cook/taste test - after a thorough smell/color exam - and it passed. The real test will be Wednesday at this point.
Nancy April 14, 2020
Allekas - Good points. I understand your doubts better.
After you get through the Wednesday dinner, safely, and if you have the interest, find one of several good articles about the differences between best buy, use by, expiry dates.
And maybe a chart or website on those dates by a reputable source.
Barbara April 13, 2020
No one wants to touch this because no one wants to be responsible for telling you, "Go ahead and eat it! It'll be fine." and then find that they are being sued.

But let's look at that Sell By date. "The “sell-by” term you often see on food product labels refers to the last day that a retailer can have the product on display on a store shelf. It is believed that food items are safe to eat for up to 10 days after the “sell-by” date, if kept properly stored.

Meat and Poultry usually have “sell-by” dates to look for. If you do not intend to use the meat you purchase within 1 or 2 days of purchasing it, it is recommended that you freeze it. The same recommendation pertains to poultry within in 3 to 5 days of its purchase.

So, according to, you should be good to go with that chicken.

I hope this helps

allekas April 14, 2020
Thank you for your brave and rationale advice, Barbara.
Barbara April 14, 2020
No worries. Always remember that the "good until" dates are government regulations. Now, I can appreciate my Feds looking out for my best interests -- but who hasn't read The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair? It's a classic for a reason.

Having said that, it's important to understand the regulations -- what is meant by sell-by, and other terms that the Feds have deemed important. In your case, that chicken can cheerfully sit in the fridge for the next 3 days (if I'm reading the timestamps on this site correctly).

In addition, please understand that these are Federal Regulations -- in other words, they are the results of countless hours spent in mind-numbing Federal committees, sub-committees, and sub-sub-committees resulting in regulations that are so conservative that they look more like strangulation to people in the food industry. I know. I was one of them.

Just remember that none of this is directed at you -- the consumer. All of this regulation is directed at them -- the mopes that would dearly love to extract one more quarter of a penny of profit per pound (or ounce) of whatever the f**k it is that they are trying to sell to you.

They are the ones that don't care if the meat (I'm using the term loosely) they sell you is writhing with poisonous, bacteria-laden microbes that will cheerfully kill you.

Thus, the timestamp was born. And it's a good thing. But it's up to you to understand the "sell by", "good until" and most of the terminology, so you can figure out WTF is going on in at the supermarket shelf.

It's not so much Buyer Beware as Buyer, get your head in the game and figure out the rules (or at least, the terms). It's not difficult, but it will require a modicum of web searching for terms and definitions. You can do it. If I can do it, anyone can do it . :-)

Best of luck!
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