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> Reheating chicken
Mata
post Mar 16 2011, 09:21 AM
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I'm wondering if anyone can explain this to me:

There's this commonly held issue with reheating chicken - cook it from raw, you're fine, leave it in the fridge after that for a few days and you're fine, but if you reheat it and then eat it apparently you're going to die of something horrible.

It's the last bit that doesn't make sense to me (partly because I've reheated cooked chicken to eat it plenty of times). I can understand how repeatedly cooking then allowing chicken to cool would encourage bacteria to build up, but if you reheat it once after it has initially been cooked and immediately eat it then surely there can't have been some bacterial explosion during the reheating that is suddenly going to harm you more than if you'd let it stand for another day?

So - does reheating cooked chicken really do anything bad for the bacterial presence, or is the problem really multiple reheating and cooling over time? And, what's the difference between doing this with chicken and, for example, beef?


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Sir Psycho Sexy
post Mar 16 2011, 02:02 PM
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I know the thing with beef it to do with the baddy bacteria can only actually grow on the surface, so the insidey bits are all safe and sound, which is why it's perfectly safe to have things like that so rare.

As far as reheating chicken. My guess would be that simply warming the chicken is where people fall down, if it's not heated sufficiently, the baddies don't die and said chicken exacts it's revenge. To my mind that's always been the difference between red and white meats, white meats you cook thoroughly where red you revel in having the delicious pink, juicy bits in the middle.

That said, I once stripped a chicken, kept it in an air tight container in the fridge and consumed it over the course of a week with no ill effects. But I was a student then, students are immune to such things as food poisoning.


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Mata
post Mar 16 2011, 05:51 PM
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I see you logic about makign sure it's cooked to start off with, but surely even warming the chicken would be fine? If it's been cooked properly the first time then you would hope that everything is dead. If you warm it before eating it there wouldn't be enough time for the heat to accelerate any latent bacteria's multiplication to any dangerous level much beyond what is was when the chicken was still cool... At least that's what I think, but that's not agreed on by everyone.


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Hobbes
post Mar 17 2011, 12:54 AM
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The advice with chicken is to ensure it is absolutely piping hot throughout. Also, all meat should only really be reheated once.

The reason we tend to be so careful with chicken, pork, etc. and not beef, is because bacteria very rarely forms INSIDE beef. The cooking of beef has more to do with sealing it, and killing surface bacteria. There is nothing on the inside that should do us harm. But this is not the case with the likes of chicken.
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Mata
post Mar 17 2011, 10:10 AM
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Reheating things once makes sense, but surely the nasty things inside the chicken would have been killed the first time you cooked it properly? From that point onwards I assume it is as sterile as any other cooked food, so why are special exceptions made for chicken? Is is based purely on the idea that it might not have been cooked properly in the first place, so merely reheating it a bit the second time won't kill anything left over from the first time?


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Hobbes
post Mar 17 2011, 11:19 AM
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I think it is the cooling process. Reheating something fairly quickly after cooking it (i.e. your beloved arrives home later than planned, so you stick the meal back in the oven not long after it has already been cooked) isn't much of an issue. But as the food cools, bacteria starts to visit the chicken again (from the air, your hands, etc.). I think the cool-down of chicken can be as important as the heat-up: you don't want to leave it sitting out all night, you want to get it in the fridge as soon as possible (but still avoiding putting it in the fridge whilst it is still warm).

I think it is a case of: the chicken may have become 'sterile' from the first blast of heat, but bad bugs start to visit again afterwards, so making sure you blast it properly on the reheat is as important as the first time.
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LoLo
post Mar 17 2011, 03:01 PM
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I have actually never heard this before. Could it be a cultural idea or am I just naive?

I've had chicken reheated plenty of times with no issue. I've also cooked it and then eaten it cold without issue. In fact multiple times this week I've had chicken cooked, then reheated, or cooked and then eaten cold and I've had no issues. I've been on a bit of a chicken kick.

*shrugs*


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post Mar 17 2011, 03:12 PM
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QUOTE (LoLo @ Mar 17 2011, 04:01 PM) *
I have actually never heard this before. Could it be a cultural idea or am I just naive?


I had the same reaction as you do Lo, I talked about it with a couple of other Dutch people
and they also responded with the comment, it might be something cultural.
Although in the Netherlands we are very aware of things like Salmonella.


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Mata
post Mar 17 2011, 08:16 PM
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Likewise, I've done this loads of time, but in England it's considered very normal that you shouldn't ever reheat chicken... Although leaving it to cool and eating it cold for days after is considered fine.

I see what you mean Hobbes, but I can't see why this would be different for chicken than for beef.


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Phyllis
post Mar 18 2011, 10:57 AM
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I've also never heard of this! When I used to eat chicken, I would reheat it with no problems (well, maybe a problem with the texture/it drying out, but not with me ever getting sick). Of course, in my experience, people tend to be a bit more cautious about food poisoning here than back home.

So, I have a question, since I don't eat meat. Do those pre-cooked packages of chicken that they have in supermarkets say "Do not reheat" on the preparation instructions? Are you meant to just have them cold?


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post Mar 18 2011, 11:51 AM
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I don't think I've ever really been told not to reheat chicken, and I've done it many times. What I was told, however, was not to freeze raw chicken more than once. Apparently if you freeze it, allow it to thaw, then freeze it again that's bad, though I'm not sure why.


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Hobbes
post Mar 18 2011, 12:52 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Mar 17 2011, 08:16 PM) *
I see what you mean Hobbes, but I can't see why this would be different for chicken than for beef.


Bacteria finds chicken sexier than beef.

tongue.gif

Essentially, bacteria growth in chicken (and also especially pork) tends to be quicker and more penetrative than in beef, because the texture of chicken is more permeable.

During the initial process of turning livestock to food, chicken gets handled a lot more (plucking, gutting, etc.) compared to beef, so more bacteria is present to begin with. Cooking it doesn't kill EVERYTHING, but it gets rid of most of the bad stuff. So the first instance of heating needs to be done properly.

To keep chicken for reheating later (or eating cold), you need to get it down to the right temperature as quickly as possible (but obviously can't stick it straight in the fridge either). Bacteria begins to get onto all the meats as soon as it is out the oven, so already there is a new batch of bacteria starting to breed. Having it cold enough in the fridge helps slow this down.

On reheating, again MOST are killed if cooked properly. But not all. And each time you are handling, cooking, cooling, etc. you are increasing the numbers of bacteria. Thus increasing the risk of something bad.

sad.gif

Although steaks can often be eaten almost raw, because its texture reduces the amount of bacteria existing WITHIN it and therefore only needs the outside bacteria killed off through cooking, ground/minced beef should always be well cooked, because the texture has changed considerably.

unsure.gif

Finally, I suspect the main reason there's such a difference in worry between chicken and beef is because of the types of bacteria they attract:

In beef, the evil bacteria that most commonly contaminates is e-coli. Most of the strains are harmless, with just a few that will cause food poisoning.

Chicken, however, prefers to be the host of salmonella. In this case, most strains are harmful.

So there's more likely to be something to cause you food-poisoning in chicken, than beef, because of the types of bacteria it harbours.
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Mata
post Mar 18 2011, 03:10 PM
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Ah, now that seems like a good set of reasons... Sort of. It tells us why we shouldn't reheat several times, but if we are reheating once and then immediately eating the food, is there any significant difference in the quantity of bacteria compared to if we had not reheated it? Surely 4 minutes in a microwave cannot give the bacteria a significant chance to breed to make it much more dangerous?

Of course, it doesn't change the fact that I've been doing this for years and never had a problem biggrin.gif


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post Mar 19 2011, 10:53 AM
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post Mar 21 2011, 11:03 PM
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I haven't heard anything about eating reheated chicken. Just that you should always ensure you reheat any meat properly i.e. all the way through. I have however once eaten raw chicken..by accident..wasn't cooked properly on a bbq sad.gif Wouldn't recommend that unless you like spending WEEKS on the toilet hanging over the sink too! *barf*


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Mata
post Mar 23 2011, 10:22 AM
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It's interesting to hear that this isn't as widespread knowledge as I thought it was. They seem to reheat chicken all the time in the Netherlands in cafes and suchlike, whereas places would be shut instantly for doing that in the UK. Clearly one place is doing something unwise, but I'm still not sure which.


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LoLo
post Mar 23 2011, 02:36 PM
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QUOTE (Mata @ Mar 23 2011, 03:22 AM) *
It's interesting to hear that this isn't as widespread knowledge as I thought it was. They seem to reheat chicken all the time in the Netherlands in cafes and suchlike, whereas places would be shut instantly for doing that in the UK. Clearly one place is doing something unwise, but I'm still not sure which.


I'm pretty sure they do it all the time in the US too. Maybe the UK is just paranoid. wink.gif


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Hobbes
post Mar 23 2011, 08:30 PM
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QUOTE (LoLo @ Mar 23 2011, 02:36 PM) *
QUOTE (Mata @ Mar 23 2011, 03:22 AM) *
It's interesting to hear that this isn't as widespread knowledge as I thought it was. They seem to reheat chicken all the time in the Netherlands in cafes and suchlike, whereas places would be shut instantly for doing that in the UK. Clearly one place is doing something unwise, but I'm still not sure which.


I'm pretty sure they do it all the time in the US too. Maybe the UK is just paranoid. wink.gif


Oddly, the US has more cases (in relation to size) of food poisioning than the UK.

Part of the reason that some of us in the UK feel as though we've had "DON'T REHEAT CHICKEN!!!!! OMG!!!!!!" drummed into us, is because the Food Standards Agency have been pretty much concentrating on that. About 50% of chicken available for purchase in the UK contains either salmonella or campylobacter - both of which are nasty little devils. Naturally, we then go about cooking the stuff, so hopefully kill off the bad little blighters, but the risk is already there.

The campylobacter bug is the most common cause of food poisioning in the UK, and is reponsible for more than 300,000 cases each year (15,000 of which result in hospitalisation). The most common source of this bacteria is chicken.

Is it over-cautiousness and paranoia? Perhaps... but there's been many times when someone has said, "It's not done me any harm yet," and it's been the last time.

It's just a case of the more times you reheat food, the more chance of bacterial growth. This is particularly the case with chicken. Thus, try not to reheat it any more than absolutely necessary.

Risk-reduction, that's all.
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Mata
post Mar 25 2011, 03:08 PM
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I think I need to conduct a test. I shall start with eating a live chicken, then work through dead, under-cooked, cooked, cold, reheated once, reaheated twice, then left behind the fridge for a week and reheated on a radiator. By using this methodology I shall hope to demonstrate a bell curve of the risk factor and be able to an authoritative answer for all of us.

Here chicky chicky chicky...


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post Mar 26 2011, 05:36 PM
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