Have you ever bought some chicken cuts from the supermarket that looks fresh, but once you open the package, get a whiff of an odd eggy smell? Well, you are not alone! In fact, many people have resorted to consulting the internet for this issue only to find conflicting answers.
So, what do you do if chicken smells like eggs? What does it mean? Is it still safe to eat? How do you know if the chicken is still suitable for consumption? In this article, we will settle this problem once and for all!
What’s that eggy smell?
Whether you are dealing with fresh, frozen, or thawed chicken, an eggy smell (not of rotten eggs but like a boiled egg) is always a cause for concern. Sometimes, it is a mild scent while other times, the smell can be overwhelming and can even fill your whole kitchen or home.
But what causes this smell? According to multiple websites, raw chicken meat should not have a distinct smell to it. Any odor is, therefore, a sure sign that something is wrong or that it is beginning to spoil.
Blood spoils faster than the actual meat and in some rare instances causes the smell you get from the meat. In these cases, the meat is actually still good. Simply washing it with water can help get rid or reduce the smell, but some will suggest just tossing it out instead of risking getting sick by eating spoiled or rotten meat.
Generally, the eggy smell in chicken meat is due to Salmonella enterica, a bacteria that causes the chicken to release hydrogen sulfide gas, which is what smells like eggs. This bacteria can affect chicken products, poultry, and eggs.
Salmonella is the second most common cause of bacterial enterocolitis. So, while cooking the meat at a high temperature will kill the bacteria, it is sometimes best to avoid chicken that has started to smell like eggs.
When is Eggy-Smelling Chicken still good to eat?
Fortunately, eating chicken that smells a little off will not automatically cause serious problems or food poisoning. This is because all the pathogenic bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, which are the most common risks in raw chicken, can be killed and rendered harmless by cooking the meat to 165°F or about 74°C.
In reality, the eggy scent that you are smelling is due to bacteria that cause spoilage and not bacteria that cause food poisoning or illness. In other words, these bacteria are often not harmful when consumed.
On the other hand, meat that smells and looks absolutely fresh can still make you violently ill if you fail to cook it to the right temperature or store it properly. So, although it is somehow counterintuitive, a slightly off eggy smell may mean the meat is still okay for consumption. It still depends, however, on the type of bacteria that is in it.
In addition to this, supermarkets and grocery stores or delivery services that ship chicken also claim that the gases used in the packaging process to preserve chicken causes the product to smell like sulfur, which also smells like eggs. According to them, the smell should go away swiftly upon opening of the package. However, in cases when the smell stuck around for more than half an hour, I think it is best to get rid of the chicken.
To ensure you’re cooking your chicken to the correct temperature, an accurate meat thermometer like the ThermoPro TP03 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer is an essential kitchen tool.”
What to Do About if Chicken Smells like Eggs
Once you decided that the chicken meat in question is still safe enough to cook and eat, you can reduce the bad smell by doing the following:
- Wash the chicken meat under running water upon removing it from the freezer.
- Pour over a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar over the meat. Then, you can wash it off if you don’t like flavoring your chicken with acidity. Otherwise, you can include the acid in your marinade. This should tone down the smell.
- Rewash the chicken and sprinkle some salt all over it. You can boil or cook it however you like.
- After cooking, add some bay leaves to remove the smell further.
To safely and effectively cook your chicken, the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet comes highly recommended for its durability and even heat distribution.
How to Tell if Chicken is Bad
Here are a few easy ways to tell if raw or frozen chicken has already gone bad:
- Any change in color. Fresh raw chicken should have a pinkish flesh. If it has a duller appearance or a grayish tinge, it will turn bad soon. If it is more grey than pink, it has already gone bad. The cooked bad chicken will also not look as white.
- A strong sour or rotten smell similar to the scent of ammonia.
- A slimy or sticky feel even after washing and rinsing it under running water.
Frozen chicken wings
- A thick layer of ice around the meat or an ice crust, especially if the ice crust is white instead of clear.
- Freezer burn, which appears like white marks or rashes on the chicken other than fat.
- A dark grey discoloration. A slightly grey tinge or yellowing of fat may still be fine.
To enhance your knowledge and skills in the kitchen, the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat is a must-read.
For a more comprehensive understanding of food safety practices and risks, the book Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives by Phyllis Entis can provide useful insights.
There are a few possible reasons why raw or frozen chicken smells like eggs. However, when chicken meat does not smell quite right, how do you decide whether to cook it still or toss it into the bin?
Well, there are many ways to tell if the chicken is already bad, but in the end, it really depends on your personal judgment. If you are the type of person who does not mind eating leftovers with a questionable odor, then you know that something may smell or taste a little off but won’t make you sick.
If you have a “better safe than sorry” mentality, there is definitely no harm in leaning on the side of caution. You can stand firmly alongside the saying, “when in doubt, throw it out!” and not risk getting you and/or your family ill.