Vertical smoking and cross meat contamination

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by macandrews, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. macandrews

    macandrews Newbie

    I have searched and couldn't find a good thread for this question.  I have a WSM with two racks and wonder if there is a fear of cross contamination from one meat dripping on the one below it.  For instance, my first smoke was a rack of spare ribs and two spatchcock chickens.  I used the 3 2 1 method on the ribs and tossed the chicken on after i wrapped them in foil for step 2 because the chicken only needed two hours.  By the time i sauced the ribs, they were pretty much done and dripping on the chicken below wasnt as bit a problem  I think obviously, you'd want the longer cooking meat on the bottom and quicker meat up top, and you'd also want the meat on the bottom to hold bacteria killing temps for a period of time after the top meat is off.  So what do people do?  What methods do you use?  What if i wanted to cook a brisket, a pork butt, and a whole chicken at the same time?
    mountainmama likes this.
  2. Hello.  This is a good question.  The whole thing is all about timing but the chicken NEVER on top.  The chicken would cook first.  Pork fat and brisket fat dripping on chicken is fine.  Raw chicken dripping on pork or beef is a BAD thing ( at least I would not want it ).  You COULD argue that if you get the timings correct you would have "cooked" chicken dripping down; but then it would be time to pull the chicken off the smoker.

    Just my opinion.  Keep Smokin!

    tjdcorona likes this.
  3. phatbac

    phatbac Master of the Pit

    I use a foil pan under the top meat on the wsm

    Happy smoking,
  4. don't go beak over hoof. It's just good policy. Poultry has a higher safe temp than pork or beef. If you put poultry on top, it can drip on the non-poultry. Non poultry cooked to med is still well short of the poultry safe temp and any drippings from the poultry will remain as contaminant on the non-poultry items. Precautions can be taken, but accidents happen. It's just not a good habit to get into. Plan your smoke differently or deal with the inconveinent stacking of the meats. Either is better than having someone get sick.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The meat with the highest internal cooking temp, to kill bacteria common with that meat, is always on the bottom...   The lowest internal cooking temp meats should be on the top....  

    That is done in case chicken should drip on a beef roast, you do not have to cook the beef roast to 165 degrees to kill the chicken pathogens...
  6. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a cook coming up where I'm doing turkey, beef ribs and baby back ribs. I'm bringing my vertical smoker with the Santa Maria grill mounted on the front. I figure the turkey breast will go low and slow indirect on the Santa Maria leaving me to decide if I want pork on top of beef or the other way around on the vertical. I'm thinking the beef will stay on longer so pork on top but I just don't like the idea of one dripping on the other even if it's safe it's still taste contamination.
  7. macandrews

    macandrews Newbie

    Kind of eliminates the possibility of putting something on the lower rack if you have a pan there.  
  8. macandrews

    macandrews Newbie

    All very helpful.  So how about this...I cook pork butts and spatchcock chicken.  Chicken cooks 2 hours about and butts about 12.  I put them on at the same time so i can eat chicken for lunch and pork for dinner.  Both are raw at the start, so for 2 hours the pork drips on the chicken.  at what point do you think the pork drippings stop being a pathogen problem?  im thinking i will rig a shallow aluminum pan with wire and hang it beneath the top rack I don't know how that will affect smoke penetration of the top meat though.  
  9. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    The smoke penetration will be just as good with a pan underneath.

    I do all my butts in pans sitting in their own juices.

    I get plenty of smoke flavor & good bark.

  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sorry Guys but...IT JUST DON'T MATTER! Chicken on top, Chicken on bottom? Don't matter...Let's look at the Worst Case scenario.

    You are smoking a rack of Ribs, 225°F, at the 4 hours mark you put a whole drippy Chicken on top for a 2 hour smoke. Red Bacteria laden Chix juices are oozing all over the Ribs...ONE MINUTE later you realize the smoker temps were higher than you thought, this whole time the smoker was at 275°F, and Those Ribs Are Done! You immediately remove the Ribs...Any Problem here???? Is a trip to the Hospital certain??? NOPE!

    The " surface " of those Ribs are 275°F! There is not a single Bacteria known to man that can survive more than few SECONDS at 165°F !!! There is just No Way the Salmonella, or anything else, see Dave Omak's chart below right column, could possibly survive contact with the 275°F surface of the Ribs. ALL Bacteria are Instantly killed and there is no chance of food-borne illness eating those Chicken basted Ribs...Even with Rare Steak. Bacteria can't Bore into the happily cool center and the Surface is 275°...More than instant Death to all!

    Ok...There is mentally some YUCK factor because raw Chicken juices dripping sounds nasty but no Safety issues exist. In every other case the Chicken and other meat will be in the 225+ temps for hours. Above or below, again all bacteria is killed...JJ

    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
    bauchjw and mountainmama like this.
  11. Hello JJ.  Thanks for sorting that out.  That's why they pay you the BIG money!  [​IMG]   Seriously though, put the way you explained it makes sense.  Keep Smokin!

  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You are welcome Danny. In restaurants, Raw Meat is kept away from foods that may not be cooked further such as produce but, with non-allergenic meats, keeping chicken away from others is not considered critical. It all gets cooked...JJ
  13. I tried telling that to my eco-lab inspector. Didn't want to hear it. Anymore, I just follow the guidelines and avoid common sense on the job.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    So, if chicken and ground beef are kept together, and the chicken drips on the ground beef, that's OK...  because we are going to cook the ground beef...
  15. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yes...Why, what is the problem? Since the Jack In The Box, E-Coli Lawsuit, Fastfood Restaurants cook to 165 and higher end Burger joints like Red Robin go to 155-160°F, if burgers are ordered Pink, jf not specified, they cook to 165. The $25 Burger places go at least 150°F and let them rest 3-5 minutes. So even in these places, there is no Salmonella issue.

    I spent 3 years in Grocery in the late 70's and a year as a Deli Manager in '99 sharing a walk-in refer with meat and seafood. In both jobs I handled Meat Deliveries. Palate loads are mixed cases of Pork, Beef, Fish and Chicken. Chicken is loose and packed on ice. These cases leak like sieves all over everything. The employees handle all the meat, portioning and wrapping. The job is nonstop and NOTHING, tables, wrapping equipment, uniforms, aprons, etc,  gets cleaned until the night crew comes in to Power Wash.

    Restaurants get meat deliveries the same way. The various meats get portioned and go in small holding pans, the pans go on the line in refrigerated drawers. When you are getting 30+ orders in quick succession, you grab a Chicken Breast it goes in the pan or on the grill, the Steak and Burger are the next grab and go. Most restaurants use Tongs but not all. What the Chicken drips on is of no concern because the Burgers, Chops and Steaks are all going to be cooked. Do you thing the Line Cooks are going to stop cooking during a rush to Wash and Sanitize between handling Chicken and Burgers? Why would they? Cooking kills Bacteria...JJ
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
  16. Like I said, I leave common sense at the time clock. These nemrods scolded me for product in the case or bunker. Chick next to pork with no devider ?? chicken on a shelf above pork or beef ?? All bad ju-ju. Everyone is afraid of lawsuits these days and Food Lion gets quoted frequently. I agree with you, I think it's silliness, but that's what they want. 

     We don't get ice pack chicken these days, but mixed pallets are the norm. They just stutter when I ask"what's the differance " They don't like me much because I am more than capable of free thought and cursed with a fair amount of common sense.
  17. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    How long do you smoke the buts? Does the  juices on the bottom of the pan result in a soggy bottom?
  18. tjdcorona

    tjdcorona Meat Mopper

    My luck, they will name the newly discovered bacteria on me - I will still stack meats accordingly - but I do believe in the science of it.
  19. macandrews

    macandrews Newbie

    Thanks JJ.  This is the best gd forum on the internet.  With this post, i had a logical theory that that was the case.  Further, i had a difficult time searching this topic in the forum, so i wanted to verify my theory as correct and perhaps ask that this be sticky'd somewhere for new smokers unless you think it my topic is easy enough to search.  If not a sticky then maybe a new post with the info you put above.  Thanks guys. Smoking two racks of pork spare ribs this weekend.  Happy Fathers day to me.
  20. weev

    weev Meat Mopper

    you could always put a rack in the pan to keep it off the bottom 

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