Food Safety Issues/Salvaging Bad Poultry


Hello! I want to know if it is possible to salvage a piece of cooked chicken/poultry that has gone bad? If the meat is slimy and smells bad, can you rinse it thoroughly, cut off an outer layer all around the piece of meat and safely re-heat and eat it if all bad smell is gone? Or could there still be toxic bacteria or organisms within the meat that are undetectable? In other words is it anything like moldy cheese which can be salvaged in that way?  Thank you so much for your time.

Hi Sheila,

No, you can not cut off spoiled area of chicken and be assured that it is safe to reheat and eat.  While food spoilage organisms are not harmful to consume, they can be hiding bacteria and toxins that do not give off any signals they are present.  These organisms may be on the entire chicken and it is impossible to know if cutting off the "bad area" removes these organisms.

Mold and food borne illness organisms are two different things.  While mold can be cut off of hard foods like a wheel of cheese, it is not recommended to remove mold from soft foods -- like shredded cheese, cottage cheese, fruits, etc since some molds have the capability of producing micrscopic hairlike poojections that can work their way down into the soft food.  Some of these projects have been found to be harmful and thus the recommendation to pitch mold on soft foods.

So...throw the cooked chicken away!


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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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