Metropolitan Meat, Seafood and Poultry
Food Safety

Chicken/Poultry Safety Guidelines


  • Maintain optimum storage temperatures:
    • Ice Pack Chicken: 32° - 35° F
    • CVP (gas flush): 28° - 32° F
    • IQF & Other Frozen: 0° F maximum
  • Never exceed safe shelf lives:
    • Ice Pack Chicken: 7 days from slaughter, under optimum conditions
    • CVP (gas flush): 21 days from slaughter, under optimum conditions
    • IQF & Other Frozen: 12 months from slaughter, under optimum conditions
  • If possible, store cooked and raw products (like Ice Pack and CVP chicken) in separate coolers.
  • If cooked and raw products must be stored in the same cooler, separate them as much as possible, storing raw products such as Ice Pack and CVP below cooked items to reduce the risk of cross contamination.
  • Always seal or cover Ice Pack and CVP chicken to reduce dehydration, off odors and spoilage.

Hygiene & Sanitation

  • Use good hand-washing practices: - before handling foods
    • after using the bathroom
    • after touching mouth, nose or hair
    • when changing tasks
  • Wear gloves specified for food use, especially if you have a cut or sore
  • Use separate, clean and sanitized utensils when tasting a product-never your fingers.
  • Change aprons or uniform when switching from handling raw product to cooked product.
  • Clean and sanitize all utensils, equipment and surfaces immediately after use.
  • When using commercial cleaning/sanitizing solutions, follow all label directions.
  • Keep wash-and-dry towels sanitized and wash often, storing soiled towels away from food prep areas.
  • After cleanup, wash hands thoroughly before handling any foods.

Preparing Fresh Chicken

  • Wash hands and forearms thoroughly with soap and hot water.
  • Use only clean and sanitized utensils and cutting surfaces.
  • Wash chicken thoroughly, removing all blood.
  • Cut up on a clean and sanitized surface, discarding excess fat, skin and tails promptly.
  • Dispose of contaminated ice and soaked containers promptly.

Preparing Frozen Chicken

  • Use good hand-washing practices:
  • If you're breading frozen chicken, rinse 3-4 minutes under running water to melt glazing, then bread as desired.
  • Hand-breaded frozen chicken can be stored (covered) for up to 2 weeks in the freezer.
  • Pre-breaded or marinated chicken requires NO thawing-cook directly from frozen for maximum quality and to reduce the possibility of bacteria growth.
  • Slow-thawing of frozen chicken is NOT recommended and can:
    • harm texture and flavor
    • promote dangerous bacteria growth
    • contribute to the unappetizing darkening of bones

Cooking Tips

  • Cook all poultry products thoroughly
    • Fresh chicken to an internal temperature of 180° - 185° F
    • Frozen Chicken to an internal temperature of 160° - 165°F
  • Always use a meat thermometer at the thickest part of the meat to check temperatures.

Holding Tips

  • Chicken prepared to be held for later use must be chilled as soon as possible…never more than 4 hours after preparation.
  • Store below 40° F in small quantities, in shallow covered pans.
  • Reheat, covered (to retain moisture), to 160° - 165° F for service.
  • Cooked or raw chicken must be discarded after 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Hot buffet foods must be held at 140° F or higher.
  • Cold buffet foods must be held at 40° F or lower.
  • Check with your local health inspector for more details on product holding.