Preparing & Cooking Poultry

  • Poultry should not remain at room temperature for an excess of 45 minutes. Refrigerate promptly.

  • At home, immediately place chicken in a refrigerator that maintains a temperature of 4°C or below. Use it within 1 or 2 days, or freeze it at -18°C. 

  • Chicken may be refrigerated in its original packaging or repackaged. When refrigerating poultry wrap it carefully in food wrap to avoid contact with other foods and produce and avoid cross-contamination. 

  • Never thaw chicken on the counter or in other locations. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Boneless chicken breasts, bone-in parts, and whole chickens may take 1 to 2 days or longer to thaw. Once the raw chicken thaws, it can be kept in the refrigerator an additional day or two before cooking. During this time, if chicken thawed in the refrigerator is not used, it can safely be refrozen without cooking it first. 

  • Do not cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker or in the microwave; thaw it before cooking. However, chicken can be cooked from the frozen state in the oven or on the stove. The cooking time may be about 50 percent longer. 

  • Wash hands, surfaces and utensils thoroughly before and after contact with raw meat and poultry juices. Do not reuse utensils and surfaces used for poultry preparation if not thoroughly cleaned with warm water and detergent.

  • Washing raw poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. This is called cross-contamination.

  • Rinsing or soaking chicken does not kill bacteria. Only cooking will kill any bacteria that might be present on fresh chicken. 

  • Safe food handling and proper cooking will help keep you and your family safe from foodborne bacteria.