How To Tell If Raw Store-Bought Chicken Was Previously Frozen

It's tempting to buy in bulk when shopping for chicken at the grocery store. Lower pricing and large packages enhance convenience, but spoilage can be an issue. Since raw chicken only lasts up to two days in the fridge, it can be difficult to use it all at once. Of course, there's also frozen chicken – which still maintains nutritional qualities. On some occasions, it's the right move at the grocery store

However, purchasing a raw chicken that's already been thawed is less appealing. The meat will be less tender, with many of the internal juices already drained. Plus, it's best not to refreeze meat again at home that's been frozen at all and thawed, to preserve nutrients and flavor. So, what are the clues to check if your poultry spent time in frigid temperatures?

Start with the obvious move and give it a poke to see if any part of the flesh is still hard. Then, search for any ice crystals; these will indicate time spent in the freezer, or if the meat has started to freeze in a too-cold part of the store fridges. Look at the bones, too, if buying bone-in meat. If any of the bones are darker, there's likely been bone marrow leakage that froze. Bones should be white, with just pink cut ends. And if the meat is looking especially dry, that's another hint it's thawed, having been frozen. Prepped with this information, it'll be easier to make an informed purchase.

Thawed frozen chicken shows ice interactions

There's nothing wrong with purchasing frozen chicken for cooking. It'll still give you tasty results, particularly if you make some additions – like adding fat to thawed chicken while cooking it. However, the quality depends on how well the meat was frozen. In industrial settings, the temperatures are low enough to prevent most ice crystal formation, ensuring a higher quality product with no frost burn.

When packaged fresh chicken shows such freezing signs, it's likely due to poor temperature regulation. During transportation and storage, it may have dipped into over-refrigeration and developed partial freezing. This is especially likely to happen with packages located right over a cooler. Or, the chicken may have dipped in and out of freezers during transportation.

While this shouldn't be dangerous for health, it is a sign the shipment has been handled improperly and will affect how good the meat is. So, it's best to look for another package, or even go to another store. A uniform, well-colored, and pink chicken with white or just pink-colored bones and without bruises is likely going to give you the tastiest results when you cook it at home.