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Mar 1, 2010 06:34 PM

Duck tartare??

I just can't wrap my head around could it be safe for consumption. I mean it's poultry, would you eat raw chicken? Please enlighten me.

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  1. Interesting question. I've never been offered duck tartare, but I eat rare duck when I would never eat rare chicken. I have no idea if this is rational, or not. I guess I've just never heard of people getting sick from eating under-cooked duck.

    11 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      This one has always perplexed me too -- why can we eat duck rare but not chicken?

      1. re: carbonaraboy

        Mostly because of the way the chicken carcasses are handled after slaughter.

          1. re: almansa

            Can you elaborate? I thought poultry meat can be colonized with Salmonella, Campylobacter, etc whether it's chicken or duck.

            1. re: hungryann

              Chickens live cramped together amidst their feces on the floor. Their feed is often contaminated with salmonella. After slaughter, most carcasses go into the chill bath where any individually contaminated birds share their pathogens with the rest of the kill. (Some processors air-chill, which is safer and yields higher quality meat.) The water is usually chlorinated, but only to levels to keep the water, not the carcasses, relatively clean. Then it's often ozonated and reused. Ducks live cleaner and die cleaner. We have to remember that a little pathogen is okay for us. You eat salmonella in your fried eggs. It doesn't hurt you. It's when the bacterial count increases that you get into trouble. That happens when food is mishandled. Most enjoyable eating is playing a bit of Russian roulette, except usually our chances of getting sick are very slim. I'll eat a slightly underdone chicken from my friend's farm. I know where my beef comes from, I grind it myself, and I eat my burgers medium-rare. Parasites are different, though. Cook wild salmon through.

              1. re: almansa

                Chicken and duck is really no different than beef. Bacteria doesn't grow on the inside of muscle tissue until it's been seriously mishandled. Unfortunately, most chicken is seriously mishandled and like almansa alluded to, one bad "apple" can really spoil the whole bunch when they are dipped into the communal bath.

                Fortunately there are more and more small farms raising and butchering poultry responsibly which gives us, the consumer, greater access to quality meats.

                Wild salmon can be eaten rare, it's not different than sushi/sashimi grade tuna for instance. That is to say if it's frozen the parasites are killed. Contrary to popular belief, sushi grade fish is required to be frozen for just that reason; to kill parasites (worms).

                1. re: Fuller

                  True, it can be frozen, but I know many restaurants don't bother buying the superfrozen salmon during wild salmon season.

                  1. re: Fuller

                    As far as I know, "sushi grade" anything in this country means about nothing. It's like saying something is "all natural". There are no regulations enforcing what "sushi grade" is, FYI.

                    1. re: mateo21

                      I think it's funny that people use "vinegared rice" as a term for describing fish. I personally prefer "sashimi quality." Vendors like to call their fish 1+ or 1++ now, which is also amusing. It's like "these go to 11."

                2. re: hungryann

                  Chicken that is properly raised and slaughtered chicken is much safer to eat than the crap we buy in the supermarkets of America. Many good yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) restaurants in Japan also serve raw chicken. Obviously they could not do this with American factory-farmed chicken, over 80% of which is contaminated with bacteria that can cause illness. Much of the contamination occurs during slaughter, as most bacteria lives in the gut and outside of the bird. As is true with a raw steak, even if the outside surface is contaminated, there is rarely (is there ever?) a concentration of bacteria living in the center of muscle used as meat, so Japanese chefs often sear or blanch meat, including chicken, and leave it essentially raw while killing surface bacteria. The reason tartare is safer than pre-ground meat is that it is cut immediately before consumption, which means bacterial has not had time to multiply on the surface area of all of the meat after it is chopped up. Previously ground meat has all the surface bacteria mixed into an infinitely larger surface area, where it multiplies until you eat it, which is why ground beef is so dangerous. Bacteria have a hard time penetrating solid muscle but once you chop it up the salmonella/ecoli/campylobacter party is on. The contamination problem in the US is so bad that we have to cook all poultry thoroughly because we buy it sitting in what is essentially a puddle of bacteria. Generally speaking most duck is handled in a more sanitary fashion than chicken. The saddest thing about all of this is that American people think it's natural to have to cook the crap out of all of their poultry out of fear of foodborne illness. If the FDA wasn't controlled by the chicken industry we wouldn't have to worry nearly as much.

                  And, BTW, although the law states that fish used for sushi is supposed to be frozen, no good sushi restaurant freezes their fish, with the exception of salmon, which can carry dangerous freshwater parasites. Even with salmon, the concern is with parasites and has nothing to do with bacteria like salmonella. If there were bacterial contamination worries with raw fish millions of people who eat sushi in Japan and the US would be getting sick every day.

          2. Actually in parts of Asia they do eat raw chicken and its perfectly safe. It all has to do with the processing, or should I say lack there of!! Americans mass produce chicken, all salmonella comes from fecal matter. When there was that tomato scare a couple of years ago, everybody freaked out. but if you had whole tomatoes all you would have to do is wash them. The number one way to get rid of pathogens is copious amounts of water.

            1. I mean this question w/out snarkiness... what's the difference then between rare beef and rare chicken (commercial)?