So I have this raw chicken breast that I haven't opened (sealed shut in the original plastic container) in my refrigerator for 5 days now and there is still 2 days until the expiry date printed on the label. Also note that, when I bought it from the supermarket they were keeping it in a normal refrigerator, not a freezer.

So my question is, if we're not supposed to keep chicken in the refrigerator for more than 2 days, how can supermarkets keep it in a refrigerator and sell it until the expiry date?

  • Very closely related, possibly a duplicate: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/110045/…
    – Stephie
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:34
  • @Stephie I would say the linked question is unrelated, as it is about a cooked product, and the qualifier is "best before" as opposed to "expiry."
    – moscafj
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:48
  • 1
    As I read your question, expiry date was 7 days after you bought it, right? So where did you establish "we're not supposed to keep chicken in the refrigerator for more than 2 days"?
    – user3169
    Aug 12, 2021 at 2:59
  • But I think the reality is that you have no idea how long it was in the supermarket refrigerator. The expiry date on the label only covers a time limit based on time in the market display, or unknown handling by the customer.
    – user3169
    Aug 12, 2021 at 3:04
  • Never heard of this before. It'd be a useful addition to the question if you could quote/link to whoever told you not to keep chicken for longer than two days. Aug 12, 2021 at 8:20

2 Answers 2


If your chicken remained below 40F (4.5C), and in its sealed package, the expiry is valid, regardless of whose refrigerator it is in. Any time in the danger zone (between 40 and 140F or 4.5 and 60C) reduces your window, and could reduce it dramatically depending on the temperature and time. If you have 2 days left, and you have kept it refrigerated, I would use it or freeze it.

  • Good point. The journey from supermarket to home is a likely temperature danger zone.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 13, 2021 at 17:25

The key is packaging gas - the sealed plastic packaging is filled with an inert gas that prevents spoilage.

In your home environment, you will usually not be able to mimic that, so you don’t get the benefit of an extended time window for food safety.

  • Is fresh chicken packed with packaging gas? ...not here in the NE US.
    – moscafj
    Aug 11, 2021 at 20:39

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