Fresh Packed Chicken 28-32° F is the ideal temperature range for maximum shelf life and maintaining the prime quality of your chicken. At temperatures above 34° F, chicken will lose flavor and texture, and shelf life is reduced. Below 28° F is too cold. Chicken will become "hard frozen" and lose quality.
Chicken should only be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days; if you don't use it within 2 days, freeze it. If properly packaged, poultry will maintain its quality in a home freezer for nine months to a year. (source: National Chicken Council)
Chicken can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, chicken takes about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. When using a microwave to thaw a chicken, follow the manufacturer's instructions for the size chicken that will fit in your oven, the minutes per pound and the power level to use.
Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils and hands after touching raw meat or poultry. (source: USDA and National Chicken Council)
Chicken should always be cooked thoroughly (never medium or rare!). In order to check for doneness, pierce with a fork. The fork should go in easily and juices should run clear, not pink. Using a meat thermometer on whole chickens, the thickest part of the breast should be 170°; the thickest part of the thigh should reach 180°.
For additional information on buying, handling and cooking poultry, visit the following sites: