But what happens if you bite into a piece of your bird only to find an undercooked (or even raw!), fleshy pink inside that screams "don't eat me?" Do you immediately spit it out across the table? (Sorry @ dinner guest.) Start chugging water to rinse your mouth? Run to the bathroom? Just tell me: What happens if you eat raw chicken?!
Before you start aggressively freaking out, I asked gastroenterologists to weigh in on what to do if you eat raw chicken and how to prevent yourself from eating a raw breast or wing in the first place.
What happens if you eat raw chicken, really?
Is it safe to eat raw chicken? Simply put? No. You might get sick with food poisoning . And unless you're Emily Charlton from The Devil Wears Prada, those two dreaded words are enough to send chills up and down your spine.
"Raw chickenas well as its juicesis often contaminated with with campylobacter bacteria and sometimes with salmonella and clostridium perfringens," says Jennifer L. Bonheur , MD, gastroenterologist in New York City.
All three of these food borne pathogens can cause diarrhea usually in tandem with nausea and vomiting, fever, and/or abdominal cramps, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How long after eating raw chicken will you get sick?
In the case of campylobacter, symptoms don't typically start to present themselves until two to five days after exposure, while salmonella can start wreaking havoc in as little as six hours, per the CDC . Similarly, these infections vary in length, from 24 hours (clostridium perfringens) to a week (campylobacter).
Unfortunately, once you eat raw chicken, there's not much you can do about it. Chugging water or rinsing your mouth won't bring on any magical fixes. And forcing yourself to vomit? That won't help either, Dr. Bonheur says.
What should you do if you get sick from raw chicken?
Well, if you're anything like me, you will immediately ban whatever establishment you previously ate at for ample timeyes, even that means avoiding your mom's cooking for weeks.
To answer your question: You kind of, sort of just have to deal with the symphony of symptoms. So if you're having diarrhea , nausea, crampsthe usual food poisoning problemsstart following a bland diet and stay well hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks until symptoms improve, Dr. Bonheur says.
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If symptoms don't improve or get worse, and you develop a high fever (above 102 F), notice bloody stools, or start to show signs of dehydration (dizziness, dry mouth, low BP, reduced urination), then you should definitely call your doc. Some of these worsened symptoms like high fever and bloody stools might mean you have a more aggressive infection.
But that's not usually the case. "Most infections will resolve on their own," says Gina Sam , MD, MPH, gastroenterologist in New York City. "Only in rare cases does a patient require treatment with antibiotics."
What happens if you eat slightly undercooked chicken?
Whether it's raw or just seems slightly undercooked doesn't matter. Your safest bet is to return to the stove (grill, oven, etc.) to cook the poultry for longer if you're questioning its level of preparedness.
Sure, it might seem easier to just cut around any rawer areas and eat what looks well done than asking a chef or your BFF to cook your food for longer, but that's actually pretty risky.
"The entire piece of meat should be well-cooked as there can be contamination from adjacent undercooked segments of the meat that will still put you at risk for exposure to bacteria and food borne illness," Dr. Bonheur says.
How can I make sure chicken is cooked all the way through?
Pay attention to the color of the meat and of the juices coming out of the chicken. A simple rule of thumb is that cooked chicken will be white in color and undercooked or raw chicken will be pinkish or even bloody. But don't be afraid to inspect even further.
Make a small cut into the thickest part of the poultry and if it still appears pink or any blood is present, then the chicken is most likely raw, Dr. Sam and Dr. Bonheur explain. And the same sort of idea applies with any fluids: if the juice is still pink-tinged, then throw it back on the heat.
If you're the chef de cuisine, call upon your trusty cooking thermometer and insert that bad boy into the thickest section of the meat. If the thermometer reads 165 F, then the chicken should be well-cooked and the heat should've sufficient killed any bacteria that might've been present. In the immortal words of Emeril, "BAM!"