When we think about chicken going bad, we usually think about rotten eggs but these might be the least of your worries when you spot yellow skin on your chicken. Perhaps you’ve never seen this before and wonder what it could mean — you might even wonder if you can still cook it. In this blog post, we discuss the different signs that give away bad chicken and answer the question, “is yellow chicken safe to eat?”
What is Yellow Chicken?
We will usually see yellow skin and body parts on chickens as a result of having a diet that consists of a lot of corn. One of the most common signs of this is discoloration on their feathers, while other reasons for a change in color include eating marigolds, leafy greens, and other rich grasses. The chicken breast can also be affected by the kind of cereal that a chicken is fed; it will tend to be pink if the chicken eats wheat and sorghum, while corn tends to bring out a yellow coloration.
Raw poultry will usually have gray, yellow, or brown skin, and is normal; these are usually the direct result of breed, age, diet, and/or activity level. There’s also a breed of chicken from China that is raised mainly for meat and is known as yellow-feather chickens. Moreover, chickens that have genes from grey jungle fowls will have a yellow tinge to their flesh.
Why Does Chicken Turn Yellow?
Fresh raw chicken should have a pink color along with white fatty pieces. Any piece of chicken that has turned gray, has green flesh, or has yellow fat isn’t safe to eat so be sure to discard it. Here are just a few signs of spoilage that may arise when you notice a yellow color on your chicken.
Yellow Raw Chicken Meat
When your fresh chicken suddenly turns yellow, the reason is usually that the yellow chicken wasn’t stored properly. The change in color happens when oxidation of the iron molecules inside the chicken’s muscle tissue occurs. This process takes place when white chicken comes in contact with air for too long; this is why it’s important to use an airtight container for storing raw chicken inside the refrigerator.
If your chicken already has a yellow tint, it might still be safe to eat, but this also serves as a sign of spoilage. You should consider discarding it, especially if there are other accompanying signs as outlined further below.
Yellow Chicken Skin
Whether you’re working with skin-on chicken or skin that’s separate from the meat, you should always have white skin on your chicken. Finding yellow skin on your chicken is a common indication of salmonella infection. When preparing your chicken, be sure to look for yellow patches which could be a big sign of this harmful bacteria.
It’s also important to take the necessary precautions whenever preparing and cooking chicken. This includes washing your hands thoroughly, keeping your utensils clean, and using the proper temperature for your chicken.
Yellow Fatty Parts
To avoid getting food poisoning, make sure to check if your chicken has any fatty acids that have yellow or bright yellow coloration. Bright yellow spots on chicken meat is another indicator that it’s not safe to eat. If the chicken has yellow spots around the fat or has started to display a gray color, you can still cook it but be sure to remove the edible chicken from these parts and discard them.
How to Tell When You Have Bad Chicken
If you’re still unsure whether or not the color changes on the chicken meat indicate how safe it is to eat, here are a few simple ways that will confirm for you.
Color and Appearance
Whether you’re working with a whole chicken or leftover chicken, be sure to check its appearance. Fresh chicken will have light pink flesh and its skin will have a white color; if it has green or gray flesh along with yellow fat, these are indicators of spoilage and you should get rid of the yellow chicken. While the chicken’s color may not always be a sign of spoilage, it does indicate that the quality of the chicken isn’t the best.
However, chicken that’s stored in the freezer or refrigerator will typically be safe for consumption even with minor color changes. If you see visible spoilage on the meat such as mold, throw out the whole package of chicken immediately.
Getting a whiff of an unpleasant odor from any chicken is a surefire way to tell that it’s at the end of its shelf life. A foul smell or a sour smell shouldn’t be present in fresh chicken, which should have a very mild smell, if at all. Even so, you shouldn’t rely on chicken smells alone; everyone’s sense of smell is different and you may not notice this, so be sure to look for other signs.
Chicken that’s come straight from the grocery store will appear soft and glossy — it shouldn’t have a sticky or slimy texture. If you find that your hands just touched slimy chicken, then this is a good indicator that it’s no longer safe to eat. Cooked chicken will be firmer and drier compared to uncooked chicken, so if you notice any changes in its texture, it may no longer be safe for consumption.
Apart from the signs above, be sure to look for important details on the original packaging such as the chicken’s sell-by date, use-by date, and expiration date. The first date is more for manufacturers and retailers and refers to when the product needs to be sold, while the second date refers to when the food should be used by to ensure that you enjoy your chicken dinner.
Be sure to eat your chicken within a few days of purchase — if you plan to eat your chicken later, be sure to store it in a freezer bag and eliminate as much air as you can. Doing this will help to ensure that your frozen chicken maintains the right color of meat and stays at the correct temperature. It’s also a good idea to grab your chicken at the end of your visit to the grocery store; this will ensure that it spends the least amount of time in the “danger zone” while inside your cart.
How to Store Chicken Properly
When you get home after shopping for your chicken, it’s important to provide them with proper storage by placing them inside the freezer or fridge. Inside the fridge, uncooked chicken can stay fresh for 1–2 days, while inside the freezer it can last for as long as 9 months, as long as it’s sealed tightly. The best way to prevent freezer burn is to use plastic-wrapped containers, which will also prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
Err on the Side of Caution with Chicken
Spotting yellow chicken may not be what you want to see when you open your fridge, but it won’t necessarily spell the end of your dinner plans. However, it’s also important to take note of the other signs that come with your yellow chicken to determine whether it’s safe for consumption or not. Pink flesh is a sign of quality, so as long as you don’t see, smell, or feel any of the other signs outlined above, you should be able to enjoy your chicken.
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