Already Ate It Filter: Undercooked chicken edition
March 28, 2014 12:26 PM   Subscribe

For lunch (30 min ago) I accidentally ate a couple bites of very undercooked (if not raw) chicken for lunch. It's my own fault -- I rather absentmindedly baked some pre-marinated but possibly partially frozen chicken breast last night for lunch today, nuked it this afternoon to reheat, and was a couple bites in before I realized it was definitely not cooked. I tossed it as soon as I realized it, but I'm a little worried. Any idea how long it would take before I know if I have salmonella or whatever the dangers are? Is there anything I can do now? I feel ok right now, but maybe a little queasy... is this the beginning of things to come? Thanks!
posted by cgg to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
IANAD or YD, but the quease might be psychosomatic, and it can take up to three days for the symptoms to appear. I'm afraid there's not much you can do if you've ingested salmonella. If you're still ok Monday you're probably in the clear, but maybe take it easy this weekend just in case? Good luck!
posted by hungrybruno at 12:36 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

The queasiness is completely psychological at this point. I did this, and I was fine, even though I was sort of queasy as well for an hour or two. You will probably be fine as well. The outside of the breast was probably the most likely to have pathogenic bacteria, so you've definitely reduced your risk (but not eliminated) by virtue of it being frozen, cooking the outside and nuking it.

If you're not fine, then you'll know it soon enough.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 12:39 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have a drink?
posted by jessicapierce at 12:40 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've eaten not fully cooked chicken probably 20 times. (i am a impatient cook) My stomach growled, then I used the restroom (just once). I didn't feel hot, but I'm sure i'm not your doctor etc, but I didn't get the runs or die.
posted by sandmanwv at 12:49 PM on March 28, 2014

nthing thewumpusisdead's note that you're safer with a cooked exterior, and that you will probably be fine, but I would be in watch-and-wait mode starting in about six hours. You should be in the clear after 72 hours with no symptoms, but if this were me (and I am a nut, so this represents the nth degree of overpreparation), I would:

- Start drinking lots and lots of water. Splash in some apple cider vinegar and/or kombucha if it's around. After work, drink some red wine.

- If it's convenient, take a probiotic supplement (although I'm not sure there would be enough time for any "good" gut flora to establish itself before the 6-72 hour window begins)

- Get my hands on a good anti-emetic. OTC Dramamine works well, or any generic meclizine. Keep it in my purse, in my car, within close reach.

- Make it comfortable if I have to poo a lot. Get some good wipes and clean my bathroom.
posted by magdalemon at 12:52 PM on March 28, 2014

Assume the queasy is just in your head, but take precautions. Not all chicken has salmonella, but you probably don't want to be planning on an evening of tap dancing. This is a good time to get some saltines, a little chicken soup, and few bottles of Gatorade handy. A good evening with a nice bottle of water, a book, a DVD, or maybe a nice evening with your favorite tv show isn't a bad plan. At worst you lose an evening of planned fun (and vomit a ton), next worst is just the loss of an evening, and that's about it.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:53 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had salmonella. I got it from a grilled chicken salad at a fast food restaurant that I had for lunch (it didn't have the texture of undercooked chicken or I would have stopped - I'm squicked out by that too.) I wanted to die by the next morning, but YMMV as it was my first solid meal after 2 weeks of pneumonia, so my immune system was compromised. I didn't know it was salmonella until the health department showed up at my house after my doctor ran tests to "quarantine" me and question where I ate.

Good news, not all chicken has salmonella. And it's possible the first bites you took weren't as undercooked as the bite that alerted you to the problem.
posted by cecic at 12:58 PM on March 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

On thinking about this a little more, a salmonella scare is something I'd bring out the Big Guns for. (This is problematic, but) do you know any recently pregnant ladies or anyone with access to prescription antiemetics? Some rx ones are sublingual, which is helpful if you can't keep anything down.

The less puking you can do, the better--it's fairly traumatic for your body to vomit, and you've got a better shot at staying hydrated if you can limit your output to diarrhea. The bacterial toxins making you sick are in your gut, anyway, so there's no benefit to be found in "getting it out" unless it's coming out of your large intestine. Nausea is a secondary response and one that is wholly unnecessary if you can avoid it.
posted by magdalemon at 1:01 PM on March 28, 2014

When I got salmonella, it took about 18 hours to hit me. Same thing as you - undercooked, frozen chicken. Go home after work and stay there. Most chicken has some salmonella, but that doesn't meant you'll necessarily get it, or that it didn't cook off in the little baking you did.

Good luck.
posted by cnc at 1:02 PM on March 28, 2014

I got salmonella poisoning from eating seafood at the Luxor buffet in Vegas once. It was about five hours before I started to feel ill, and a little while longer before I was at the "wishing for death" phase. But I ate a lot of fish (it was a buffet!), not just a couple bites.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 2:36 PM on March 28, 2014

The CDC estimates that something like 3% of salmonella cases are even ever reported. Which pretty much mean the rest didn't require any medical attention. I'm pretty sure I've had mild cases of salmonella a couple times. But both times were just a rough night with stomach cramps and more time than I'd like on the toilet.

In terms of treatment, the CDC says this:
Salmonella gastrointestinal infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and most do not require treatment other than oral fluids. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids. Antibiotic therapy can prolong the duration of excretion of non-typhoidal Salmonella and is recommended only for patients with severe illness ... or those at risk of severe disease or complications
So buy the things you would need to treat the expected symptoms, and hope you won't need them.

Also, don't prepare food for anybody else while you have salmonella.
posted by aubilenon at 2:55 PM on March 28, 2014

the chances are greater than 90% that nothing will happen.

/reassurance fairy
posted by bruce at 4:35 PM on March 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Did you start to feel queasy before or after you realised it was undercooked? Whichever way, drink plenty of water. You'll need it if you start to vomit/have diarrhoea and if you don't you'll just pee it away.
posted by Solomon at 4:46 PM on March 28, 2014

Unless you ate four day old stored-at-room-temp chicken, don't worry to much. In Japan chicken sashimi, yes, raw chicken slices, is a thing. They wouldn't serve it if people all got sick. Try it on your next trip to New York.
posted by zaelic at 5:34 AM on March 29, 2014

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