Food Safety Issues/Pink chicken breasts


This has happened several times and we ate the chicken with no ill effects but it makes me uneasy each time. Boneless skinless chicken breasts cooked in crock pot with water about three fourths the way up around the chicken--cooked on high for five and a half hours and registering over 180 degrees on instant read. Shreds easily. However, if you slice through a piece you see that the outer layer is white and the inside is very lightly  pink. I am not sure but it might lighten to whitish when exposed to air for some hours--if that would help figuring out anything. I have read everywhere but there are no bones with hemoglobin and no oven gasses to react so I wonder--what do you think makes it pink?

Hi Karen,

As long as the thermometer registers at least 165 degrees F in the thermal center of the chicken breasts they are safe to consume, regardless of the pink tinge.

Hemoglobin is also found in the muscles (not just the bone) and sometimes the muscle hemoglobin can react with air during cooking to the give the meat a pinkish tinge, even after cooking. Young chickens are more prone to this occurrence since their bones, skin and muscles are still very permeable.  In addition, the chicken's feed and whether it's been frozen can also affect the final color.

Since you cooked the chicken to 180 degrees it is safe to consume, regardless of the pink color.

Happy Holidays.


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Carol Schlitt


I can answer questions on home food safety, sanitation and home food preservation.


I am a former Extension educator, nutrition, wellness and food safety, having retired August 1, 2010. I am a food safety instructor for the Illinois Department of Public Health, a ServSafe Instructor/Proctor and have my own company, Safe & Savory Solutions, Inc -

National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (Past President and current Historian), St. Louis Culinary Society.

BS - University of Illinois MS - Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

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