1. Check The Label

Before you buy, be sure to check the package for the USDA inspection shield or seal shown here. Survey the package for any tears or holes and check the “sell by” date (which indicates the last day the chicken can be sold) or the “use by” date (which indicates the day by which the product should be used or frozen).

usdarawpoultryUSDA A Grade

2. Check The Product

Inspect the chicken’s appearance. It should have a pink or deep yellow, fleshy color, depending on the chicken’s diet. A strong smell could mean it’s spoiled.

3. Buy Perishables Last

Make sure your perishables, including chicken, are the last thing you place into your cart before checkout.

4. Keep Separate

Keep raw chicken separate from other items in your grocery cart to prevent cross contamination.

5. Refrigerate Promptly

Chicken items should be taken home immediately from the grocery store, then placed promptly in your home refrigerator. Don’t leave chicken on the countertop or allow it to reach room temperature. Fresh chicken can be refrigerated in its original packaging and should be placed in the coldest part of the fridge. If you have a meat drawer, that’s perfect!

6. Use Quickly

We recommend you keep fresh, uncooked poultry in the refrigerator for no more than two days to ensure maximum freshness. If you’re planning to freeze your chicken, you should do it immediately upon returning from your shopping trip. See the chicken storage chart under our Storing tab for more details.