Harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, thrive in spoiled chicken. These bacteria cause food poisoning and can result in a serious illness. Before you prepare poultry, always examine it closely to ensure that it has not spoiled. While the expiration date can help you determine if the poultry remains viable, improper handling and storage can cause bacteria to grow. Knowing the signs of spoilage will protect you and your family from food poisoning.

Remove the chicken from the packaging. If you notice a foul or unpleasant odor, discard the poultry immediately. This smell indicates possible food spoilage.

Examine the chicken for changes in color. While color alone does not indicate food spoilage, a fading or darkening in color means that you need to question the freshness of the poultry. If you notice an obvious color change, discard the chicken.

Touch the poultry with your fingers. If the poultry feels tacky, sticky or slimy, it needs to be discarded because these characteristics indicate food spoilage.