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Nov 26, 2005 02:35 PM

Oh, no - can we eat the forgotten duck?

  • f

Do you think that Chinese duck, left at room temperature for 36 hours, can be eaten?

I bought Chinese roast duck, the kind that are left hanging in the windows of Chinatown stores - but it somehow didn't make it as far as the fridge. I keep thinking that the Chinese leave them hanging in warm restaurants for god knows how long, and they're okay. Do you think it would be all right to eat if heated up sufficiently to kill any germs?

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  1. That I think I would pass on eating. That is just a bit too long at room temperature and I am by no means food phobic.

    1. In cases like this I always ask myself two questions. How much did the possibly spoiled food cost? How much would it cost me to spend a day or two with food poisoning? And, sometimes, if I'm visiting friends: How much do I hate their dog/cat?

      1. Hi Fida-san,

        A google search on "sanitation+chinese+roasted+duck" turned up a pretty standard Health Department policy of four hours at room temperature for ducks prepared by this method.

        Once example, from the California DHS, is linked below.



        5 Replies
        1. re: Andy P.

          Andy-san, if that four-hour rule were serious, I - and many others - would have been killed by Chinese ducks long ago. (Actually, death by Chinese duck wouldn't be a bad way to go.)

          Haven't all of you picked at the leftover turkey carcass in the kitchen, long after the Thanksgiving table was cleared? I've taken roast chicken with me on planes, forgotten about it, and eaten it 18 hours later with no problem.

          Why doesn't someone invent some kind of cheap home-test, like litmus paper?

          1. re: Fida

            Then we have the George Carlin method of keeping your immune system on its toes for emergency food off the floor, etc. This duck seems to fit right into that regime! JUST KIDDING.

            I can see the headlines now: Woman poster to chowhoud website arrested for poisoning death of fellow poster and her entire family.

            1. re: Fida

              Hey again Fida-san,

              LOL! Yes, I think most of us, at one time or another, can be classified as "turkey vultures".

              The thing that struck me in my search was that Chinese Roasted Duck was singled out, and, giving a very specific prep method, was at 4 hours, permitted a longer room-temp grace period than other cooked poultry, (which is held to the two hour room-temp rule).

              Also, at least in California, I've seen the rotation of the ducks. Fresh On, Old Off.

              Anyway, don't eat your bird. Just not worth the risk.

              Happy Holidays,

              1. re: Andy P.

                I've linked an old discussion of this below with the full text of the California exemption for Chinese roast duck. This was a compromise reached by our legislature when the health authorities attempted to ban the necessary out-of-the-refrigerator drying period and room temperature storage of the finished product, which would have made it impossible to create the traditional product.

                Personally, I believe that in a cool climate such as San Francisco, there's no risk in keeping the bird at room temperature for much longer than 4 hours as long as it remains whole. However, 36 hours runs up against even my comfort zone.


                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Anyone who thinks those hanging ducks are removed after four hours is living in a dream world. I just can't risk dead long dead??? There is certainly something in the marinating and roasting similar to smoking, that tends to preserve the cooked fowl.

            1. I would, but I wouldn't serve it to anyone else.

              Of course, I tend to be that way about ANY duck... ;-)