Why Does My Raw Chicken Smell Like Farts? Is It Safe to Eat?

Marria Beklavac By Marria Beklavac

Ever sliced into raw chicken and caught a whiff of something… off? That unmistakable fart-like smell can stop you in your tracks, making you wonder if it’s still safe to toss into your pan. You’re right to question it—smell is a chef’s first line of defense in the kitchen.

While it might not always spell disaster, it’s a signal to pause and assess. I’ll guide you through understanding what’s really going on with your chicken and how to tell if it’s dinner-worthy. Who knew your nose could be such a powerful tool in the kitchen?

When raw chicken smells like farts, it’s often due to the buildup of spoilage bacteria, producing gases like hydrogen sulfide. This doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken is unsafe to eat. If there are no other signs of spoilage (like sliminess, discoloration, or an off texture) and it’s within its use-by date, cooking it thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) should kill any harmful bacteria. However, if the smell is strong and unpleasant, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it to avoid potential foodborne illness.

What Causes Chicken To Smell Like Farts

When you’re cooking or preparing chicken and notice a foul smell resembling farts, it’s likely due to several factors. Let’s break down the reasons so you can understand what might be happening with your chicken.

Amino Acids and Sulfur Compounds: Chicken meat contains amino acids. When cooked, these amino acids break down and can release sulfur compounds. These compounds are the same ones that give farts their notorious smell.

Bacteria: Sometimes, the culprit is bacteria present on the chicken’s skin or within its interior. Bacteria can produce sulfur compounds as they break down proteins during cooking, contributing to an unpleasant smell.

Storage and Spoilage: If chicken isn’t stored correctly, or if it’s been kept past its prime, bacteria, molds, or yeasts can multiply. This leads to the breakdown of proteins and fats, which can result in that distinctive bad smell.

Packaging Gases: Chicken packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag can occasionally smell bad upon opening. The packaging process often removes oxygen and replaces it with gases that help preserve the meat. Once the bag is opened, these gases can escape and might briefly produce a smell similar to farts.

Is It Safe To Eat Chicken That Smells Funny?

When you’re sorting through your refrigerator and pick up a piece of chicken that has a strange odor, you might wonder, “Can I still cook this, or should I throw it away?”

Your nose is a trustworthy tool for determining the freshness of chicken, but understanding what different smells indicate can be crucial in deciding whether your chicken is safe to consume or not.

Smell: Fresh chicken is typically minimally odorous. However, if you notice a sour or sulfurous scent – similar to rotten eggs – the chicken might be spoiled. Some raw chicken has a mild scent after being vacuum packed, and this should vanish shortly after the packaging is opened. If the smell persists, the chicken is likely no longer good.

Texture: Gently press your finger against the chicken. It should feel moisture but not be slimy or overly sticky. If the meat feels tacky or leaves a residue on your hands, that’s a red flag – the chicken is likely spoiled and should be discarded.

  • Sight: Look over the chicken too. Chicken should have a consistent color. If you see any discoloration, such as gray spots or any signs of mold, it’s time to toss it.

Here’s a quick format to check chicken quality:

Sensory CharacteristicFresh ChickenQuestionable Chicken
SmellMinimal odorPersistent bad odor
TextureMoist, not stickySlimy or sticky
ColorConsistentDiscolored or moldy

Your best bet? Trust your senses. If something about the chicken raises a red flag in your mind, it’s better not to risk your health.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out. If you’re ever uncertain about food safety regarding chicken, refer to recognizable guidelines by experts to help make an informed decision. After all, taking precautions is a small but significant step toward keeping your meals safe and enjoyable.

Tips to Prevent Farty-Smelling Chicken

When you’re cooking chicken, it’s essential to avoid any unpleasant odors that might ruin your appetite. Here are some actionable tips to help ensure your chicken smells as good as it tastes.

Buy Fresh Chicken: Always check the sell-by date when purchasing chicken. A fresher chicken means less chance of off-putting smells once it’s cooked.

Store It Properly: As soon as you get the chicken home, either cook it right away or store it at a safe temperature. Your refrigerator should be at 40°F (4°C) or below to prevent bacteria growth.

  • Proper Refrigeration:
    • Store chicken in its original packaging if possible.
    • Place it on the lowest shelf of the fridge to prevent cross-contamination.

Correct Cooking Methods: Cooking chicken at the right temperature kills bacteria and reduces the risk of bad smells. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).

  • Cooking Tips:
    • Preheat the oven or pan before cooking.
    • Avoid overcooking, which can also cause bad smells.

Cleanliness: Make sure all cooking surfaces and utensils are clean before starting.

  • Hygiene Steps:
    • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling raw chicken.
    • Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and other foods.

Odor Checks: Before cooking, give your chicken a quick sniff. If it smells off, better to play it safe and not use it.

Marinating: An overnight marinade can enhance flavor and potentially reduce unwanted odors during cooking. Just remember to marinate in the refrigerator.

Address Bacteria: If chicken is beginning to smell, no amount of cooking will make it safe. When in doubt, throw it out.

What to Do if Chicken Smells Really Bad

When your chicken emits a strong, undesirable odor, trust your nose and take action. Unpleasant smells, particularly one that’s sulfur-like or sour, is a clear warning that your chicken might be spoiled. Here’s what to do:

  1. Inspect the Chicken
    • Check the use-by date on the packaging. If the date has passed, it’s a definite sign that the chicken isn’t safe to consume.
    • Look for changes in color. If you notice a grayish hue, that’s another indicator of spoilage.
  2. Perform a Close Smell Test
    • Fresh chicken has a very mild odor. If the smell coming from the chicken is strong and foul, you’re likely dealing with spoilage.
    • If you’ve just opened the package and encountered a slight odor, allow the chicken to air out for a few minutes, as a confinement smell is possible due to gas used in packaging.
  3. Consider the Texture
    • Touch the chicken. If it feels slimy or sticky even after washing, it’s not a good sign.
  4. Prevent Cross-Contamination
    • If you determine the chicken is bad, dispose of it immediately, taking care to avoid contaminating other surfaces or foods.
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By Marria Beklavac Owner
Hey there! I'm Marria Beklavac, a barista by trade and a cook by heart. My culinary journey started at 12, inspired by my grandpa, who first introduced me to the wonders of cooking. His passion sparked mine, leading me to a life where each meal is an adventure. In Terra's Kitchen, I blend my love for coffee with my zeal for cooking to share my culinary exploits with you. This blog is my space to share the joys, discoveries, and lessons from my kitchen to yours. Welcome aboard – let's cook up some magic together!