Botulism and Bacon

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mattyoungus, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. mattyoungus

    mattyoungus Newbie


    I had a question concerning botulism and bacon. I'm curious why everyone is so concerned about botulism in pork belly, but not other cuts of pork.

    I personally could care less about using nitrites - I have a great recipe that uses the pink salts, and it turns out awesome every time. But, my wife wants me to try it without nitrites and sugar, so I'm going to give it a go.

    Hopefully, I don't catch to much flak for posting this link (via, but this guy seems to be making some serious bacon:

    That seems legit, right?

    Is the difference that it doesn't sit in the fridge for 7 days? Or the fact that it's smoked for 8 hours? Or maybe it's because he uses vinegar? Or maybe all three? And, finally, why is it such a concern for pork belly when making bacon, but not a pork butt that's going to sit in a smoker for 18 hours?

    I'd just like to hear what everyone has to say about this.

    Thank you for your feedback!

  2. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I am by no means an expert and someone with more knowledge will chime in but the answer is yes, cure is not needed in that recipe for two reasons that I can tell. 1) there is not a long curing time in which spoilage can occur and 2) it is being hot smoked. When bacon is cold smoked it will be at dangerous internal temps for long periods of time. This can increase the chances of botulism.
    chef jimmyj likes this.
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Cure is used when smoking meat at temps under 200°F and with Salt percentages below 10% by weight. 

    Miss Martha does not need to use Cure with Nitrite because...

    1) She is Hot Smoking, over 200°F, 210°F specifically.

    2) Coarse Sea Salt is some where around 5+/- ounces per Cup, so with ~8 to 14oz on 5Lbs meat that is somewhere between 10 and 17        Percent. You should note that the most common percentage of salt SMF members use is 2 maybe 3% tops.

    3) She is smoking to an Internal Temp (IT) of 150° with a rest until it carries over to 165°F, very Well Done.

    Frankly, that Bacon recipe would taste terrible unless you love salty bacon. An 18 hour Pork Butt is always smoked at 225°F or higher. If you smoked a Butt at 70 to 120°F as is most common with Cured Bacon, you should use Nitrite Cure because this is the Prime growth temp for Clostridium Botulinum the bacteria that causes Botulism by making one of the most deadly Toxins known to man...JJ

    @Worktogthr... Points for catching the Hot Smoking...[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  4. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Thanks Chef! I knew you'd be along for the real answer haha. I agree that cooking bacon according to this recipe doesnt sound appetizing for the reasons you mentioned. Is there any truth to my idea that extended periods of time in the fridge without cure could cause spoilage? Only reason I ask is because I wouldn't leave fresh meat in the fridge for 14 days if it wasn't in a cryovac.
  5. mattyoungus

    mattyoungus Newbie

    Thank you for your replies!
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Absolutely. Normally meat purchased from the average grocery store has a 3-5 days before it starts to spoil. Lots of handling by questionably trained people under conditions with plenty of opportunity for contamination.This applies to Home Vac-Pac meat as well. Commercially Cryovac is done by trained professionals that go to extraordinary lengths to maintain sanitary conditions. This meat can hold 30 days under refrigeration without spoiling...JJ

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