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

Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 07:48 AM

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. GardenFresh RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 08:01 AM

    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
      Bacardi1 RE: GardenFresh Apr 18, 2012 08:44 AM

      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
        freia RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 03:03 PM

        LOLOL "a crap shoot"...:)

        1. re: Bacardi1
          Will Owen RE: Bacardi1 Apr 20, 2012 06:43 PM

          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.

          1. re: Will Owen
            EWSflash RE: Will Owen Apr 21, 2012 09:19 PM

            Damn- really?

        2. re: GardenFresh
          jamesvb RE: GardenFresh Apr 21, 2012 09:06 PM


        3. g
          GH1618 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 08:21 AM

          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
            ferret RE: GH1618 Apr 18, 2012 08:25 AM

            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. r
            redfish62 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 08:23 AM

            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
              GH1618 RE: redfish62 Apr 18, 2012 08:40 AM

              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
                Wawsanham RE: redfish62 Apr 21, 2012 04:15 PM

                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
                  cacruden RE: Wawsanham Apr 22, 2012 12:46 AM

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

              2. m
                Madrid RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 08:24 AM

                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. re: Madrid
                  EWSflash RE: Madrid Apr 21, 2012 09:20 PM


                2. Chemicalkinetics RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 08:55 AM

                  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.

                  1. a
                    acgold7 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 09:24 AM

                    I can't believe no one has mentioned the actual reason yet. Chickens are "washed" in a bath of fecal soup during processing, so one contaminated chicken infects the whole batch, and thus the odds of getting a chicken crawling with Salmonella and Campylobacter are much higher than with Ducks, which aren't processed the same way.

                    Moreover, the machines they use to eviscerate chickens are much more likely to puncture the intestines and release the microscopic baddies than the way ducks are cleaned.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: acgold7
                      Madrid RE: acgold7 Apr 18, 2012 02:58 PM

                      ok thanks acgold7 now I am becoming a vegetarian. right now. partly for my health, mostly for the health of the workers who have to process this stuff and the animals themselves.

                      1. re: acgold7
                        mpad RE: acgold7 Apr 18, 2012 03:12 PM

                        Not sure if ducks are processed any differently.

                        You're right that it is not inherent in chickens to be contaminated, but they get that way in processing. In Japan I once ate at a restaurant that specialized in chicken. Every course in a traditional Japanese menu but all using chicken, including the sashimi course. Eating the chicken raw was fine because the restaurant raised and slaughtered their own chickens, taking impeccable care not to contaminate the meat with fecal matter.

                        1. re: mpad
                          Madrid RE: mpad Apr 18, 2012 03:59 PM

                          Even with health issues removed,it's about taste. I've never eaten raw chicken and I've only tasted rare duck, but didn't work for me. I also don't like caviar or organs or foie gras. So it's my palate problem, perhaps.

                          1. re: Madrid
                            mpad RE: Madrid Apr 18, 2012 04:07 PM

                            Raw chicken tastes about like raw fish. As with sashimi, the taste of the raw version is more subtle than the cooked version. Difficulty is more mental than because of the flavor. But also not so special that I'd go out of my way to eat raw chicken again.

                            1. re: mpad
                              tastesgoodwhatisit RE: mpad Apr 19, 2012 07:47 PM

                              Yeah, I find rare duck to be more like rare beef. But raw chicken is much more like sashimi - it's not 'meaty' at all.

                        2. re: acgold7
                          thimes RE: acgold7 Apr 20, 2012 06:44 AM

                          This was my understanding as well.

                        3. s
                          Steve RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 03:32 PM

                          I do no think that the processing of the chicken fully accounts for why eating raw chicken is such a rarity, although the descriptions are sufficiently horrifying to dissuade even the adventurous Chowhound.

                          It seems to me that raw beef is consumed throughout the world in various guises, and has been for a very long time. However, even in remote communities where people are slaughtering their own animals, eating raw chicken is mostly unheard of.

                          1. CarrieWas218 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 03:36 PM

                            Salmonella exists far more prevalently in chicken than in ducks.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CarrieWas218
                              earthygoat RE: CarrieWas218 Apr 19, 2012 03:50 PM

                              Agreed. They are completely different species. Different species are susceptible to different diseases, where humans may or may not be susceptible to as well.

                            2. chefathome RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 04:02 PM

                              I'm a fan of medium rare duck but much of the duck I eat is wild and shot by local hunters. My brother also raises about 25 very happy free-range ducks on the farm each year (just for family) and the cleaning process is meticulous. Delicious, that is for sure. I have never balked at having medium rare duck at good restaurants, either. Maybe I should?! I eat a lot of it.

                              1. t
                                tacowalker RE: Bacardi1 Apr 18, 2012 05:44 PM

                                From what I have heard, it matters where the duck comes from. I was told to always cook store bought duck to temperature (165), but that nice restaurants who serve rare duck get it from a supplier, and is a different breed/type of duck. They also only ever serve rare or medium-rare breast meat, not the thighs and legs. This breed, or style in which it was raised, can be served that way. I guess that makes sense after seeing chicken sashimi served in Japan.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tacowalker
                                  Will Owen RE: tacowalker Apr 20, 2012 06:48 PM

                                  I just had two of Trader Joe's Organic Free-Range birds, dry-brined for two days and baked under buttered foil to 160º internal, then briefly browned. The juices were a pale pink, as was the meat. It was breath-takingly good, as good in its way as any other fowl I've tasted. Perhaps I am being naive here, but I trust TJ's to give me cleanly-processed chickens, at least at this level, and have every intention of expressing that trust again and again. Yum.

                                2. chefj RE: Bacardi1 Apr 20, 2012 07:43 PM

                                  There is a Izakaya restaurant locally that serves a Japanese chicken Tare tare.This from Wikipedia: Chicken "sashimi", known as toriwasa, is considered by some to be a delicacy; the Nagoya kōchin, French poulet de Bresse and its American derivative, the blue foot chicken, are favored by many for this purpose

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: chefj
                                    Tripeler RE: chefj Apr 21, 2012 01:29 AM

                                    Raw chicken meat is fairly commonplace here in Japan. I have had it countless times, and have never gotten sick from it.

                                    1. re: Tripeler
                                      chefj RE: Tripeler Apr 21, 2012 09:53 AM

                                      Exactly so the idea that it is "deadly" is kinda silly.

                                      1. re: chefj
                                        Bacardi1 RE: chefj Apr 21, 2012 10:05 AM

                                        Okay, so perhaps not "deadly" to everyone. I'm kind of thinking you knew exactly what I meant.

                                        But as for silly? Just like with eggs, for a normal adult with a healthy immune system, most likely nothing more than a couple of days in the bathroom. For youngsters, the elderly, & anyone with a compromised immune system, contracting Salmonella CAN definitely be "deadly" & is anything but silly.

                                        1. re: Bacardi1
                                          GH1618 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 21, 2012 10:28 AM

                                          "Most likely" yes, but there is a small liklihood of the far more serious disease Guillain-Barré Syndrome resulting from Campylobacter jejuni infection. It is prudent to consider not only risk, but the severity of the possible consequences.

                                          1. re: GH1618
                                            Bacardi1 RE: GH1618 Apr 21, 2012 01:19 PM

                                            Hey - I'm with you!! I was simply replying to "Chefj" saying my use of the word "deadly" in my original post was "silly".

                                            1. re: Bacardi1
                                              GH1618 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 21, 2012 05:25 PM

                                              OK, but I understood "deadly" to be an exaggeration for dramatic effect.

                                              1. re: GH1618
                                                Bacardi1 RE: GH1618 Apr 22, 2012 07:49 AM

                                                Good grief - I was just reiterating what is a widely held belief, dramatic or not. Is it worth an argument? I really don't think so, & I apologize if my wording upset you.

                                                1. re: Bacardi1
                                                  GH1618 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 22, 2012 10:29 AM

                                                  I'm not arguing and I'm not upset. Chill.

                                      2. re: Tripeler
                                        GH1618 RE: Tripeler Apr 21, 2012 10:22 AM

                                        There are two problems here. The first is that one person's experience does not establish whether or to what extent there is contamination in the chicken supply generally, only that the possibility of contamination is less than 100% (which, of course, it would be). The second is that food inspection standards in one country cannot be expected to apply to another.

                                        I would have thought that poultry inspection would be more thorough in Japan, where chicken is sometimes eaten raw, however Campylobacter contamination occurs even there:


                                      3. re: chefj
                                        Glencora RE: chefj Apr 23, 2012 11:45 AM

                                        I see from your profile that you're in the East Bay. I thought of that Izakaya restaurant too when I saw the title of this thread. I assume they don't kill off their customers. Do they just have very, very high quality meat?

                                        1. re: Glencora
                                          chefj RE: Glencora Apr 23, 2012 03:42 PM

                                          I sure hope so! and I am sure that it is handled very carefully.

                                      4. w
                                        Wawsanham RE: Bacardi1 Apr 21, 2012 04:22 PM

                                        To some of the people upthread (I couldn't post directly). Besides death, for example, e coli--just one pathogen found in undercooked meat, or other foods, can cause permanent kidney damage, among other things. Saying that you've eaten raw chicken and never having experienced any bad effects is like saying that you've crossed a busy road in the middle of traffic and not been hit. You've had some luck.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Wawsanham
                                          SWISSAIRE RE: Wawsanham Apr 21, 2012 06:49 PM

                                          When my wife and I lived in the United States, we were informed about a farm-source of duck eggs in Los Angeles County.

                                          This "farm" was along the 605 freeway and faced the storm drainage canal built by the Los Angeles County Public Works Department. The people were very friendly and did sell us eggs, but the term "farm" was a bit of a stretch. For all we know it may still be there.

                                          Dirty, dusty, crowded, but they were very concerned about any wild ducks flying in and contaminating the stock. Entering, we were asked to clean and decomtaminate or shoes, something not usual to farms in Asia, including to Japan. There had been a number of contaminations in California over the years, we were told, and sadly the entire stocks were culled.

                                          We were told that the duck stocks were transported into Los Angeles for processing, primarily for the Asian market. We only wanted eggs, and were assured that they were pathogen free. Nonetheless, we never cracked them on the pan we used when later cooking or baking with them. But I return back to duck meat concerns.

                                          Duck diseases include plague (enteritis ), hepatitis, cholera, and aspergillosis, a mold-spore disease also known to humans. All it takes is a sick duck, or for that matter one sick processor or cook, and there you are. Would it be any different in Asia ?

                                          Having graduated from Waseda University, I have tried about every Japanese delicacy there is raw or cooked, just short of Fugu. Medically, I would avoid raw duck or chicken, or any avian meat for many of the good reasons posted above.

                                          Slow but well-cooked meat can be both delicious, moist, tender, and safe.

                                          1. re: SWISSAIRE
                                            Will Owen RE: SWISSAIRE Apr 23, 2012 11:38 AM

                                            The 605 duck farm was done away with some years back, but when we moved here in 2000 it was still there. I remember it well; I never actually went there, but our car at the time had no AC, and in my job-hunting exercises I made many trips up and down the 605, and on a hot, smoggy day the "whiff" off the duck farm was almost visible.

                                            Someone is still raising them somewhere, since I've seen balut (live-embryo) duck eggs in some Asian markets.

                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                              SWISSAIRE RE: Will Owen Apr 23, 2012 01:27 PM

                                              Thank you for the update, Will.

                                              I had forgotten about the wonderful fragrance. Remarkably, I do not miss the 605 traffic.

                                        2. j
                                          jamesvb RE: Bacardi1 Apr 21, 2012 09:09 PM

                                          answer this-- is a chicken a duck?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jamesvb
                                            Chemicalkinetics RE: jamesvb Apr 21, 2012 10:56 PM

                                            If you want it to be.

                                          2. Veggo RE: Bacardi1 Apr 21, 2012 09:25 PM

                                            What is it about rare duck that is tastier than fully cooked duck?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Veggo
                                              Steve RE: Veggo Apr 22, 2012 07:56 AM

                                              Rare duck is almost surely not 'tastier' just as rare tuna is not 'tastier' than fully cooked tuna.

                                              We are getting into the question of texture, mouthfeel, etc.

                                              1. re: Steve
                                                huiray RE: Steve Apr 23, 2012 12:11 PM

                                                But don't forget that with Chinese-style roast duck & etc the duck is always "done through". Other Chinese dishes with duck pieces/meat are rarely done with the duck less than "done through". Some chicken dishes, such as Hainan Chicken Rice, or "Pak Chit Kai", etc are often done so that the bone marrow is still slightly bloody and the flesh *just* slightly pink around the bones.

                                                With European cuisine - I prefer my duck breast to be medium-rare to medium (pink in the center) rather than rare (bloody).

                                            2. sunshine842 RE: Bacardi1 Apr 22, 2012 01:12 AM

                                              I don't have an answer -- but in Europe, duck is consumed nearly as often as chicken, eating it cooked beyond a pink center is considered a travesty....and yet I've never read or heard of a single foodborne illness linked to duck cooked rare.

                                              There are lots of physiological differences (beyond appearance) between chickens and ducks, even though we consider them all poultry. There's some other reason why duck doesn't carry the same pathogens that chicken does.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                Steve RE: sunshine842 Apr 22, 2012 07:57 AM

                                                Clarification: you are only taking about duck breast.

                                                1. re: Steve
                                                  sunshine842 RE: Steve Apr 22, 2012 09:54 AM

                                                  No, I'm not.

                                                  Duck is extremely common in France -- legs and breasts -- granted, it's rarely served as a whole roasted duck, but duck pieces appear on a LOT of tables, both private and restaurant, all across the country, as well as being as easily available in supermarkets as chicken or turkey.

                                                  You generally have to cook the legs and thighs to well done because otherwise it's so honking tough that it's inedible....but that has nothing to do with safety.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                    huiray RE: sunshine842 Apr 23, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                    Can you get Chinese roast ducks in Europe/France? How are they done?

                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                      sunshine842 RE: huiray Apr 23, 2012 12:28 PM

                                                      the Paris Store near me is doing Canard Laquée for €16 for a whole duck, but dangit, I haven't had the chance to try one yet. (both times I've been in there lately I was on my way somewhere else, so couldn't buy anything perishable)

                                                      They smell awesome, and from the appearance, I'd say those are done through, like a roasted chicken.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                                        huiray RE: sunshine842 Apr 23, 2012 12:52 PM

                                                        Ooooh! Please arrange your schedule so that you can pick one up - and report on it henceforth!

                                                        1. re: huiray
                                                          sunshine842 RE: huiray Apr 23, 2012 01:32 PM

                                                          I knoooow. I've been working kin to cain't lately -- but I have a day off on Wednesday, and was already thinking about the duck.

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