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How Come "Rare" Duck is Okay, but "Rare" Chicken is Deadly?

While I've enjoyed well-roasted duck for my entire life, I've never eaten or served it "rare", which has been the rage for many years now. Just can't wrap my brain around the fact that it's okay to eat undercooked duck, but undercooked chicken (& turkey) can kill you.

They're all poultry, so what makes one a supposed duck-lover's delight, while the other one can earn you a trip to the hospital (or into an intimate relationship with your bathroom!).

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  1. I'm no expert, but I understand that it's because chickens are factory-farmed in conditions that are seriously conducive to fostering the growth of microscopic baddies, whereas since ducks are comparatively so much less popular, the conditions in which they are raised (for non-wild ducks) aren't as bad. If ducks start becoming more popular, I'm sure that will change.

    5 Replies
    1. re: GardenFresh

      Now you see, this just isn't true. I grew up on Long Island, NY - the formerly undisputed duck capital of the nation (some folks claim "the world"). Have you ever seen a duck farm in person? Very few farming practices could be as squalid, particularly since waterfowl have droppings that are much larger, sloppier, & watery than land fowl. And if they are raised with access to swimming water, that's an automatic cesspool.

      In fact, the main reason why the "Long Island Duck" industry went by the wayside was because the runoff from the duck farms (all located along the Island's east end) was heavily polluting the waterways & shoreline. It's both thankful (for the environment) & sad (for the duck farmers) that so many severe restrictions were placed on managing the duck manure, that the majority of the farms went out of business. Currently, there are only TWO duck farms left on Long Island - nothing like the heyday.

      But I digress. My point is that if you've ever seen a commercial duck farm, you'd never suggest that the conditions aren't as bad.

      Thanks for the replies guys, but I'm thinking it's still a crap shoot, & I'll be enjoying my duck well-done as usual. :)

        1. re: Bacardi1

          Bacardi1, what is forgotten nowadays is that the Long Island duck industry was a government-sponsored, returning-G.I.-friendly plan to establish a duck EGG industry, with duck meat as an offshoot. It was quickly discovered, however, that every duck egg they tested for salmonella came up positive, and heavily so. Long Island therefore became a center of ducks-as-food farming.

        2. Both chicken and duck (and goose) are recommended to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F. to kill salmonella and other pathogens. (Source: USDA FSIS)

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            This. Chickens are mostly breast these days and have a larger ratio of fast-cooking lean white meat compared to duck's denser meat. It takes longer to cook a duck than a chicken, but both need to reach 165 degrees for food safety purposes.

          2. I suppose undercooked fowl can kill some people, but it can't kill me given I'm a healthy adult.

            3 Replies
            1. re: redfish62

              Perhaps, but a pathogen found in poultry which is a common cause of food poisoning, Campylobacter jejeuni, will cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome in some of the people it infects. Your chance of getting it is small, but the consequences can be devastating, and your susceptibility to it does not depend on your overall health.

              1. re: redfish62

                Actually it could kill you--though perhaps the likelihood is lower than for a person with a weak immune system. The e. coli outbreak recently in Germany was killing otherwise healthy people. Be careful.

                1. re: Wawsanham

                  e coli can be on pretty much anything since it is spread in feccal matter. Many outbreaks have happened with veggies ....

              2. I have always wondered this myself, but whatever the answer, I can't eat rare duck with blood oozing out. (I don't like beef in general so steak isn't an issue for me). I love duck breasts gently braised or poached, however. I've never understood the rage for rare duck breast.....

                1 Reply
                1. In theory, any rare meat can kill you. However, this chance can be dramatically minimize. In the case of duck vs chicken. It has been argued that most chicken we talk about are factory farmed chicken raised in an antibiotic situation. So the argument is that whatever these chicken may have, they are resistance to many antibiotic medication.

                  So if you do get sick from these raw chicken, then many antibiotics may no longer work for you.