Food Safety Issues/Chicken odor


QUESTION: We have had a problem with several packages of thin sliced chicken lately. The chicken is packaged in a tray with plastic wrap across the top that's 'glued down' on the edges - like it comes from a factory and instead of being cut and wrapped with plastic wrap in the meat department of a local grocery store. My husband and I are in our sixties and maybe we don't smell as well as we used to. We smell almost nothing or a light smell that we imagine could be from packaging. My young adult daughter, however, says she smells a kind of sour or sickly sweet smell on the chicken, and she cannot stand to eat it. Can the packaging cause a smell and what type? If it is the chicken itself, can it still be safe even with a slight odor? Not sure what we are going to so if she moves out and leaves us with our poor sense of smell!

ANSWER: Hi Karen,

I'm not aware of the packaging of deli meat causing an unusual odor. The packaging used for deli meats is designed to provide a strong, lightweight and safe material that does not react with the food product.

I can not explain the unusual odor your daughter is experiencing.  Perhaps she has an acute sense of smell in which she is able to detect odors not normally detected by normal smell.  I guess this could be both a blessing and curse.

What I do suggest is that when you open a package of deli meat, you should write on the packaging the date at which you will pitch the product.  This date should be within 7 days of opening the package. If the "best if used by" date comes before the 7 days, then use the "best if used by date" as your pitch date.  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Carol - I'm sorry - I was unclear - this was a package of fresh chicken breasts that had been sliced thin. They label it escalope chicken or something like that. Can fresh chicken have an slight odor and still be safe to eat? And if so, what kind of odor would be a definite 'toss it' ?

Hi Karen,

Thank you for clarifying your answer.

Again, I'm not aware of plastic packaging material used for fresh chicken having an unusual oder

However, fresh chicken should not be exhibiting an odor other than the smell of fresh chicken when then package is opened. If it has a sour, or sickly sweet smell it should not be cooked and consumed.

Chicken, when purchased fresh, should be used within 2 days of purchase or frozen for future use.

Your daughter may be hyper-sensitive to odors and that is why she is picking up an odor that you and your husband are not detecting. After your daughter leaves your home, I would not be too concerned if you purchase the chicken and use it within 1-2 days of purchase.


Food Safety Issues

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.