Properly stored in a refrigerator kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, thawed or fresh chicken can keep for up to 2 days before it needs to be cooked or put into the freezer. This rule holds true for both chicken pieces and whole chicken. Once cooked, chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before needing to be discarded.
As long as the chicken was thawed in the refrigerator and the meat's temperature never goes above 40 degrees, it can be refrozen. Chicken that is frozen keeps for about 2 months. The chicken can last longer than that, but it may begin to lose some of its flavor and the texture of the chicken may change. Any chicken that has been thawed using the cold water method or defrosted using a microwave should be cooked immediately or discarded. Chicken or any other meat should never be defrosted at room temperature, such as on a kitchen countertop.
It is important to handle raw food properly, especially meats and seafood. If thawed meat gets warmer than 40 degrees, this allows the bacteria that is in the meat to begin to grow at a faster rate. The bacteria is there at 40 degrees or below; the cold just helps to retard the growth. Poultry should always be cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees to ensure that the bacteria is killed off and cannot pass on any foodborne illnesses to those eating the meat.