Aldi chicken packet detail sparks huge online debate: 'I wouldn't eat it'

An expert has weighed in on what you should do if you spot this happening with your packet of meat.

An Aussie Aldi shopper has sparked a huge debate online after discovering an odd detail on her packet of chicken immediately after buying it.

After purchasing a packet of fresh chicken breast schnitzels from the supermarket she arrived home only to realise the package was “swollen”. Taking to social media she asked whether others thought the crumbed chicken pieces were still safe to cook and eat.

“Would you still eat these? I was going to freeze them for later,” she asked others on the Aldi Mums Australia Facebook page, which has a membership of more than 333,400 people, alongside a picture of the expanded packaging.

She added that the chicken was well within the used-by date on the packaging despite the unusually swollen plastic top.

Aldi chicken Schnitzel packet showing a raised edge.
The swollen packet confused one Aldi shopper who was unsure if the chicken inside was still safe to consume. Source: Facebook

Would you eat the chicken?

Debate in the comments raged over whether the chicken was still safe to eat, with dozens weighing in with what they would do.

“These packs usually swell up when they have been out of the fridge too long. I’d do a smell check before you freeze them,” one person advised.

“I wouldn’t do it. It usually means it has been left out of the cold,” another added.

A grocery store employee chimed in saying that packaged food shouldn’t be sold if it looks like this, adding: “I would take that back”.

But not everyone thought it was an issue, with plenty of others saying there was nothing wrong with it.

“They are always like that. I have four like that in the fridge right now ready to make for dinner,” one person commented.

“The ones I buy are like that too. All good, we are still alive,” shared another.

Another shopper commented that the meat packets were “meant to look like that”. Meanwhile, others said the simple "smell test" would quickly let her know whether the chicken was ok to eat.

Why you shouldn’t eat it

However, Senior Research Microbiologist at Quantal Bioscience, Sandra Olivier, who has more than 20 years experience in the field, says food inside swollen packages should not be eaten — even if it smells ok.

“The appearance and/or smell of any food product cannot always be relied upon to decide if it is potentially unsafe to eat,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

Aldi sign next to store entryway.
A microbiologist says consumers shouldn't hesitate in returning the chicken if they are unsure. Source: Getty

“You should always store food according to the manufacturer's instructions and eat food within the date markings.

"However, if you do observe refrigerated packaged food that is uncharacteristically bloated, discard or return it to the store if it is still within the best-before or use-by date.”

The Australian Chicken Meat Federation also advises any consumer concerned about unusual packaging should return it to the store of purchase.

Why does this happen?

Numerous causes can lead to packaging swelling, from a loss of temperature control at some point in the retail chain to groceries being left in a hot car.

But Olivier says there are a couple of things that can cause unusually bloated packaging, which consumers should be aware of.

“Firstly, it should be understood that some foods that are sold in flexible packaging may be deliberately filled with gas by the manufacturer and can appear bloated,” she explains.

Aldi chicken Schnitzel packaging.
The food packaging process can make packages seem bloated, but if they don't look right, the product shouldn't be consumed. Source: Open food facts

This process is called modified atmosphere packaging and is commonly used in food packaging to maintain product shelf life.

“However, uncharacteristically bloated packaged food can be a sign of gas production caused by the product. This is not limited to refrigerated packets of chicken, but can be seen in many types of food in flexible packaging.

“In some cases, this gas production could be a result of microbiological activity — the growth of microorganisms in the product.”

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