Food poisoning is a serious threat to your health, and smelly food is certainly a potential source of food poisoning.
If you find that your raw chicken smells like bad eggs then the chances are that there is a salmonella infection is in the meat. Salmonella is a potentially dangerous bacteria that cause food poisoning. If the smell is bad, you should throw the chicken out.
It’s a funny thing for chicken to smell like rotten eggs, really. It’s a bit like grown-ups smelling like baby diapers. But it happens, and there are things you can and should do about it.
Why Does My Chicken Smell Like Rotten Eggs?
It is far from rare that a person should buy a few cuts of chicken from the supermarket, bring it home, and find that it smells like an eggy mess. Unfortunately, when it does happen, people tend to find a lot of conflicting answers online about what it is and what to do. So, God-willing, we’re going to sort it out for you and hopefully bring a tidy conclusion to this whole eggy business.
What is That Eggy Odor?
That strong eggy smell is quite well known to be the smell of sulfur which is part of the waste products of the salmonella bacteria. However, the smell that people complain about most often on this topic is not the sulfury smell of a rotten egg. It’s just the smell of a boiled egg. The most important thing to get nailed down is that while eggs come from chickens and chickens come from eggs – chicken should not smell like eggs.
If you detect the smell of eggs, or anything else unusual coming from your chicken, that is an almost sure sign that the meat has begun to spoil. It could also be a sign that something unpleasant has gotten onto or into the meat. Any way you slice it, it’s not nice. Now, let’s figure out what to do with the stuff.
Here’s How To Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad
When is Eggy-Smelling Chicken Still Good, & When to Throw it Out
Now for the fun part where we talk about blood and rot and things that spoil at different rates. You’re welcome. Blood spoils more quickly than the meat of the chicken. This is due to the fact that the blood is easier to penetrate and because it is especially nutrient-dense. So, we’ll know where to go if we should find ourselves reincarnated as salmonella. But the point is that if your chicken only smells a bit funny, a bit eggy, then chances are good that it will be okay to eat after you wash it thoroughly and cook it properly.
Many people in today’s hygiene-obsessed society will go right for the default position of “if it’s stinky, throw it out, no question.” This attitude, of course, could not develop in any situation where food was not overly abundant. So let’s just keep our heads on straight. We do not have to throw everything out just because it doesn’t look and smell perfect.
You should be able to wash and cook the chicken and make it safe. It might take a bit of experience to know for sure whether or not eggy-smelling chicken can be made safe to eat. The way to find out is to wash it well and cook it thoughtlessly and properly. If it continues to stink after it is cooked, then yes, you should throw it out. If it looks strange after cleaning and cooking, throw it out.
If you don’t want to eat it after cleaning it well and cooking it correctly, don’t feed it to your animals either. You can trust your senses. They are highly developed and can tell you when to say no to stinky chicken. Just don’t default to throwing out everything that isn’t perfect.
How to Know if Eggy Chicken is Still Edible
Some bacteria cause food poisoning. That is to say, when you eat them, they eat you back. Seems fair, really. Others only spoil food. This is why buzzards and other animals are able to eat carrion without going belly-up. Of course, they make mistakes sometimes too. Even the bacteria that worries us most, listeria, ecoli, salmonella, and the like will be killed at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or 74 degrees Celsius. These kinds of temperatures are a snap to produce in a conventional oven. The trick is to keep these temperatures up for at least 20 minutes and to make sure that the heat reaches into the center of the meat to kill all of the bacteria that may be growing in there long enough to guarantee a job done.
You need a quality meat thermometer to make sure that sufficient heat has reached the core of the meat. So invest in one of you haven’t already. Alternatively, you can dice your cuts up so that the heat reaches everything, but this is a poor long-term solution.
The real question here is, might there be so much bacteria that we have to burn the meat in order to kill all of it? Your first clue will come to you via your old factory nerve. If the smell is so strong when you open the package that it makes you reel in disgust, if it curls your nose hairs, if you have to air out the room – then, yes, throw it out. When the smell is this bad, don’t even try to salvage the meat. Put it into a plastic bag, tie a knot in the bag and throw it out or bury it deep in the ground.
If, however, you open the bag and the smell is only a bit strange and if the meat looks okay, then you’re almost certain to be fine after cleaning and cooking it properly. Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that most supermarkets and delis will tell you that they use gases in their packaging that can smell egg-like. Frankly, I think they are just trying to avoid telling you about the inevitable amount of bacteria that is certain to get into some of their products.
The truth is that they know that a bit of bacteria is not only normal, but it’s almost impossible to avoid. But they also know that enough consumers are sufficiently paranoid about germs that if they hear the word “salmonella,” they will reflexively go vegan for as long as they can resist the Chinese Buffet.
Things to Watch Out for in Chicken
Be alert for these warning signs any time you open up a package of raw meat.
- Discoloration: A little bit of discoloration may not be a cause for concern. But if it’s splotchy, or if it’s just too large, you might have some bad meat. If it’s just one spot, you can remove it and keep the rest, as you do with fruit.
- Strong sour or rotten odors: If the smell is bad, just throw the meat out. If it’s just a little strange, it’s probably okay.
- Slime: There’s a reason slime is a staple of monster movies- it’s a sign of a dangerous biological entity. A significant amount of slime means that bacteria have been present long enough to produce a significant amount of waste. If it’s just a thin layer, you can probably salvage the meat. But if it’s coming off like drool from the lips of a Saint Bernard, commit that bird to the Earth.
- Frostbite: If you find a thick layer of white, crusty ice, that can mean the slime we just mentioned has become frozen. Frostbitten meat is just like burned meat, it’s ruined. If the frost is overwhelming, the meat is almost certainly bad.
- Dark gray discoloration: A slight gray or mild yellowing of the fat is normal. If the gray is approaching black, or if the yellowing is too yellow, or too pervasive, your chicken dinner is not meant to be.
Unfortunately, there is only one authoritative judge of your funky chicken- your senses. If after looking at it, smelling it, touching it, and cleaning and cooking it – if after all of that you still don’t think it’s stomach-worthy, go ahead and throw it out. Know that cases of food poisoning have been linked to kidney and liver cancer years later. So, don’t think that you can just get an icky tummy and get better. Trust your nose. Avoid bacteria, and stay healthy.