The story starts out yesterday when I bought a Tri Tip at Costco. It was one of the pre-rubbed ones that already had rub on it. Also yesterday in a thread about something else, someone posted a chart showing the time/temp for a log5 reduction in bacteria. The statement was made that any meat that is probed, needled/bladed, or other wise punctured, needed to be cooked to 165* or held at a lesser temperature for a relatively long time (80 minutes at 130* if I remember correctly).
With this in mind, I set out to smoke/cook said Tri TIp this morning. I put it into my MES-30 which was pretty cold given that it was 25* last night. I added in my AMNTS and smoked the Tri TIp with no heat for 1.5 hours. The starting I.T. was 44* and after 1.5 hours it had gone up to 58*. I guess that was due to the ambient heat that the AMNTS puts out.
In the meantime, I had fired up the natural gas Weber to about 500*. I took the Tri TIp out of the MES-30 and went straight to the grill. After 18 or so minutes the I.T. was at 135* and I pulled it. I let it rest for about 20 minutes and then refrigerated for easier slicing.
The reason for the concern, as I understand it, is that Costco needles all their meat. Actually, I believe this is due to Costco having lost a court case in Canada. Part of the settlement was an agreement that they would disclose the needling. It was also pointed out that Costco reports the treatment of their meat products due to the court case, while no other retailer is under any such requirement. The meat you are buying at another retailer could well have been needled/bladed and you'd never know, or generally be able to tell. It is also telling that I believe they lost the court case because someone was seriously injured.
So my questions:
- How dangerous is it to just grill meat that has been bladed? If it is really that likely that you would be seriously injured. Obviously, lots of people are buying steaks from Costco and I doubt that most of them are cooking them to 165*. Is this OK because the meat is in the danger zone for such a short period of time? Or are these people taking a health risk, most likely completely unaware?
- How dangerous is it to be eating the Tri Tip that I fixed. I ate it and my wife had some. I'd really like not to kill her or my kids. I've grown attached to them.
- As to the whole probing thing, you see TV chefs all the time using a Thermapen to puncture the meat and check the final temperature. They almost always are looking at medium rare temps of 130-140. This would seem to be in the zone that's to be avoided. Is that type of practice safe? How come food professionals are sticking their meat and not cooking it to 160*.
- How do you feel comfortable cooking/smoking meat rare that isn't from Costco when you have no idea if it has been needled? Not knowing, doesn't seem a lot safer than knowing and cooking it medium-rare.
Thanks for any input and the education that I'm hoping to receive on the subject.