Can I eat it?
January 8, 2017 7:03 AM   Subscribe

I roasted a chicken exactly a week ago (Sunday, 1 January) carved it and stuck the leftover slices (or shreds really, given my carving skills) and a few bones in a tupperware. I used some for sandwiches but there's still a fair amount left and I'm not so sure it's safe to eat any more. But would it be ok if make a soup with it?

I'm sure you all never tire of these questions! I did some searching but couldn't find the answer. My thinking is that while it might not be ok to eat as is, the process of boiling it should kill off any nasties. But does it really work like that? Thanks in advance!
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
Assuming the tupperware was in the fridge, in my experience, yes. In fact, that is the normal lifecycle for a large piece of meat in our household.
posted by 445supermag at 7:09 AM on January 8, 2017

I have made soup with that, many times, never any negatives.

Someone will be along to tell you that boiling food does kill things but does not necessarily remove or neutralize toxic compounds the critters made. While technically true, it's not something I worry about. I'm also assuming it smells fine. That is also no guarantee of safety but bad smell is a good reason to reject food.

This is what chicken soup was invented for- enjoy!
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:13 AM on January 8, 2017

I don't think boiling will kill the nasties. However, our lifespan for leftovers is one week, similar to 445supermag. I would make the soup, eat it today and freeze any leftovers for immediate consumption upon thawing - i.e. don't make soup and let it sit around.
posted by sarajane at 7:13 AM on January 8, 2017

In my world, week old roast chicken to
to be boiled for soup is an edge case. Likely OK but maybe not, ya know? Definitely no good for a sandwich...

In these cases I remind myself: there is only one way to find out for sure if I'll get sick from eating this.
posted by STFUDonnie at 7:15 AM on January 8, 2017

Related: there are a few things that can survive at boiling temps, but they tend to live at hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean and require very high pressure.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:19 AM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

That is past my comfort zone, but if you do make a soup, only make enough for today. Boiling it certainly won't reset the clock for another week.
posted by defreckled at 7:55 AM on January 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Decomposition survives boiling, otherwise the "how to hide a body" thread would have been really short. And the world would generally be a much weirder place.

I am extremely cavalier about this stuff and 7 days is my upper limit. As others said, if you're going to make something, I'd eat it today but no later than today, and even freezing is iffy because if you pull it out of the freezer and let it thaw for 3 days in the fridge that's 10-day-old meat and that's a lot.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I love all the "can I eat this?" questions because they tell me that I live dangerously.

I would absolutely eat this. I am now wondering how many things in my fridge I should throw away.

Probably a lot.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

Toxins that are created during the decomposition will survive boiling, and will make you sick if present, unfortunately.

However, I asked pretty much the exact same question here before and got mixed responses.

Reader, I DID eat it and I was fine!

But, YMMV, at your own risk, standard disclaimer here.
posted by moiraine at 9:32 AM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I tend to be liberal in my answers to these things, but I wouldn't eat it.

I might grudgingly eat it if I was planning to make the soup AND completely finish it today, but normally I make soup that I plan to eat over a few days or freeze. And you're definitely at the very last day of it's possible consumption, in current form or new form, in my rule book of living, so wouldn't be able to do that.
posted by cacao at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2017

I would put it either in a soup or in a casserole and eat it.
posted by motdiem2 at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2017

FDA Refrigerator and Freezer Storage Guidelines (pdf) says 3-4 days. Bear in mind that their guidelines are written with the assumption that the consumer my be a child, elderly, pregnant, or immunosuppressed. As such, they are quite conservative. For example, their minimum recommended temperature for steak is on the boundary between medium and well-done.

As noted above, there are plenty of toxins that don't break down even at boiling temperatures.

Personally, I'd eat it as soup or stock if it had been sitting on the *counter* for 3-4 days if it passed the smell test, but my risk assessment takes into account that I'm youngish and in good health. I also drink raw milk and eat uninspected meat and have, on occasion, eaten out of dumpsters.
posted by stet at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I might grudgingly eat it if I was planning to make the soup AND completely finish it today

This makes no sense to me.

If the toxins are present then the chicken or any derivative food is unsafe to eat now, either in its present state or cooked further in soup. Decay being what it is, there are bacteria in the food that will eventually make it inedible, but if you heat them properly you will kill those bacteria (or most of them) and the food will remain safe to eat until the next batch of bacteria develop in due course. The second cooking is not to get rid of toxins, which it can’t, but to get rid of the bacteria, which it can. Making it into soup will not make it significantly safer than it is now, but it will extend its current safety level for the safe life of a soup made now.

All of which reminds me to finish the soup I made from last week’s roast chicken carcass.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't eat it. Not only because I hate diarrhea and nausea and barfing, but because it's just a chicken? It's just a chicken. Chicken is cheap and replaceable, and if/when you wake up in the middle of the night with dread knowledge that your butt is about to explode, you will be wishing you spent $4-8 on a fresh chicken.
posted by witchen at 8:37 PM on January 8, 2017

Thank you everyone who answered. Inevitably, the same time management skills that meant it sat in the fridge for a week in the first place meant I wasn't able to cook it yesterday either. But I think I'd risk it next time (though it would be the upper limit - I won't be cooking it today).

witchen, I understand what you mean but you can play that game endlessly; the same was true the day I cooked it, it's just a case of where you draw the line for risk. I'm sure you weren't implying I'm cheap but where I live even a quite small free range chicken costs much more than that (this one was around 12 USD). But it's not really the money anyway, I just don't like the idea of killing and cooking an animal just to throw it in the trash.

Special thanks to those who pointed out the difference between the bacteria (which boiling would kill) and the toxins they produce (which would survive), which was my main missing piece of understanding.
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul at 3:10 AM on January 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

For the record, boiling *does* break down many toxins too, just not all. For example, this research article discusses two toxins made by Bacillus cereus, one that breaks down with heat, another that doesn't.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2017

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