Help please! $65 in meat ruined?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by brooks hatlen, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. brooks hatlen

    brooks hatlen Newbie

    So I bought a 8.5 lb brisket and 13 lbs of boneless pork shoulder to smoke for dinner tonight.

    I filled my 18.5'' WSM smoker with charcoal and pecan chunks, put a burning batch of charcoal on top like the instructional video shows.  I've used this smoker at least 15 times and in the past it has smoked for over 12 hours with this much charcoal. 

    So I put the meat on at 12:30 am last night and went to sleep.  The smoker was over 220 when I put the meat on, and usually it goes over 250 if I leave the vents fully open,  so I closed all three intakes and the exhaust approximately half way.  In the past the smoker sits at about 210 for at least 8 hours with the vents in this position.  I wake up this morning at 8:00 am and the smoker is sitting at appx 130 degrees.  The meat is warm to the touch, but the temp is low enough that it isn't uncomfortable to just hold your hand on it.

    I did not and have not penetrated the meat with a probe.

    So two questions:

    1. Is the meat ruined?  I still have enough time to get it up to 200 or 210 before dinner, but is it safe to eat?

    2. What the heck is going on with my smoker?  It was completely empty of all ash, so the intake was not obstructed.  Even now I am having trouble getting it over 200 with the vents fully open and a fresh batch of charcoal. 
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  2. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Since you didn't penetrate the meat, IMO you'll be OK.
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Re-fire and finish the job. 130 is 5° from the standard safe zone and 130 with time 112 minutes is just as effective at killing bacteria. The meat is sterile and you caught it in time. Plus the meat was intact. Finish the cook and enjoy your meal...JJ

    Updated time 60 to 112 minutes. Thanks Dave.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  4. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I vote to crank it up and get some smoke on it, but definitely think about finishing in the oven.  You won't get the crust, but I think you'll be fine.
  5. brooks hatlen

    brooks hatlen Newbie

    Thanks all, that was my thought as well.

    Even if you assume it dropped straight from 210 to 125 over 8 hours, then it would have been at roughly 170 after 4 hours, and 150 after 6 hours.  My understanding of the safe zone based on what I've read is that you have to spend 4 hours between 40 and 140 to have potential trouble.  More than likely the temperature wasn't dropping linearly, it was likely over 170 at the 4 hour mark. 

    I will definitely finish in the oven.

    This is annoying though.  The only things I can think of is that I either got a bad batch of charcoal, or the wind and cold somehow effected the smoker more than I've experienced before.
  6. joe black

    joe black Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't mistake cooker temp with meat IT. I hope I'm correct in this, but your cooker being at 210* doesn't have anything to do with the 40-140 rule. As usual, I would yield to JJ as the authority on this.
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    For intact meat 40-140 in 4 does not apply. Smoker temp 225+ is all there is to worry about. For ground, injected, etc, then you need to manage IT properly...JJ
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Taking a look at the pasteurization tables, from the FDA, the meat is probably safe to eat now...   Re warming it is not a problem.....

    Temperature Time Temperature Time
    °F (°C) (Minutes) °F (°C) (Seconds)

    130 (54.4) 112 min... 146 (63.3) 169 sec
    131 (55.0) 89 min.... 147 (63.9) 134 sec
    132 (55.6) 71 min.... 148 (64.4) 107 sec
    133 (56.1) 56 min.... 149 (65.0) 85 sec
    134 (56.7) 45 min.... 150 (65.6) 67 sec
    135 (57.2) 36 min.... 151 (66.1) 54 sec
    136 (57.8) 28 min.... 152 (66.7) 43 sec
    137 (58.4) 23 min.... 153 (67.2) 34 sec
    138 (58.9) 18 min.... 154 (67.8) 27 sec
    139 (59.5) 15 min.... 155 (68.3) 22 sec
    140 (60.0) 12 min.... 156 (68.9) 17 sec
    141 (60.6) 9 min...... 157 (69.4) 14 sec
    142 (61.1) 8 min...... 158 (70.0) 0 sec
    143 (61.7) 6 min.......
    144 (62.2) 5 min.......
    145 (62.8) 4 min.......

    Table C.1: Pasteurization times for beef, corned beef, lamb, pork and cured pork (FDA, 2009, 3-401.11.B.2).
  9. brooks hatlen

    brooks hatlen Newbie

    JJ thanks for your help, it is reassuring.

    Just for my general information, what is the smoker at 225 rule?
  10. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    So I am not asking this to be contrary, I honestly am always confused by or concerned with this. In the brief time I spent in culinary school we were always advised of the 40-140 rule, but that it apples to EVERYTHING, meaning whether the meat is cut into or not. I ask this because you state that unless the meat has been penetrated or cut into, but hasn't all chicken or all pork or all beef been cut into unless you are literally cooking a whole cow guts in all????

    A pork butt and a Brisket are "Cuts" of meat, and how is it that they suddenly have a magical layer of protection from food borne pathogens? Also if you trim off any fat or anything doesnt this then mean you have cut into the meat, and this broken the magical protective surface

    In all of my research and training (which is admittedly limited, thus why I am honestly inquiring of you) any meat that has been cut or processed in any way is subject to bacteria growth, and in fact many chickens, and even the majority of chickens come pre-shipped with salmonella, and furthermore, im not sure that all meat packing plants are sterile environments?

    I typically operate off of the 40-140 as a rule, and if it were me in this gentleman's case I would in fact throw out the meat, but again, I have a limited understanding of these things, and would love some further clarification as to why cutting open or probing an already cut piece of meat would make a difference.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  11. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    With a whole cow or whole muscle and bacteria is only on the outside, it hasn't had a probe or knife penetrating the outside surface and carrying the bacteria/germs into the interior of the muscle. Once you do that it is no longer considered intact muscle and you need to follow the 40-140 rule.

    Seeing that the germs are only on the exterior of the meat the rules are different. I think it's the exterior 1/2 inch needs to get above 140 in four hours. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong on the time and temp please , it's been a while.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Meat comes from the muscle of livestock and is internally sterile. However, contamination can be introduced onto the product from the hide of the animal, its gastrointestinal tract, workers or the environment. The steps taken to prevent microbial contamination during the life of the animal, while the meat is processed, during the shipping of the product and during preparation are called "interventions."
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

     The " interior " of any muscle or cut meat of a healthy animal is 100% sterile as far as bacteria is concerned. Just like you may have bacteria on your hands and body, that does not mean it is IN your muscles unless you get cut. Bacteria can't and don't migrate into meat... When an animal is slaughter and cut open an Inspector is there and a great deal of precautions are taken to keep bacteria from the guts getting on the meat. It is not Sterile Conditions but this is why processor vac-packed meat has a 4-5 Week self life at temps below 36°, the bacterial count is limited. Now these large Primals get to the Grocery Store. There is some bacteria on the large cut surface and Lots of hands have now handled the vac-pacs and the budgetary and worker educational factors being what they are in store cutting rooms, sanitary conditions of people and equipment, while considered acceptable, is Poor compared to the Processing Facility. As the meat is further cut up in the store, it is possible for bacteria that was on the outside of the meat, packaging, workers hand, body or equipment to be spread to the " outside " of the meat and then to cut surfaces of the roasts, steaks, trays and wrapping equipment when the large cuts are broken down to consumer cuts. This is why a Store Bought Roast has a 5 day shelf life. We now assume because of handling and packaging, there is bacteria on the Roast and if we Grind or Inject or Bone it Out, our further processing can transfer the surface bacteria to the ground, injected or cut meat and follow IT guidelines.If we take an Intact Roast and just go from refer to smoker the bacteria is only on the surface and the 4 hour guideline does not apply.  

    Dan, mentioned 1/2" of the surface getting to temp but again, Bacteria can't migrate in so the immediate surface is the only concern. Think Searing a Steak...The Bacteria are Instantly killed on the surface, not only after the first 1/2" of each side is cooked! Heck, if that was true, eating a Rare Steak under 1" thick would always cause food poisoning...[​IMG]  

    The issue with store bought Poultry is because of the high volume mechanized processing it is impossible to maintain the sanitary conditions that are taken in Hand Slaughtered and Gutted Beef and Pork processing operations. Additionally, much of common poultry is now " Enhanced " meaning injected by the processor with a Solution where runoff and excess is collected and recycled throughout the run, thus contaminating the interior of all the breasts and legs of hundreds of birds. This is true of Turkeys, as well, but not the situation with most Duck, Quail and Game Foul processing so these meats even though poultry, can be eaten Rare.

    Now, it has been established by the USDA that at 225°F or higher the Smoker heat quickly raises the Surface Temp of a cold hunk of meat in a timely manner, minutes not hours, and is the temp needed to get ground, injected and boned roasts up to or above an IT 140° in around 4 hours where say a 140°F to 180°F smoker temp would have a harder time raising the cold surface temp in short order and would take many many hours to get the interior up safely. I hope this answers some concerns...JJ
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  14. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Another thing to consider; It isn't just the bacteria present, but also their waste product. Bacteria are killed at a typical temp of 160.  So if that was all we had to worry, the bacteria itself would not be an issue. The bigger the colony, the more waste there is. That waste may not be destroyed or converted by the cooking temperatures. Last time I talked to FDA, that was the big thing.
  15. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Wow!! [​IMG]

    thank you guys so much! This has been very educational and im glad I stumbled across the post and asked. I have always been on the cautious side (which I still think is a good thing) but I guess ive been too cautions.

    Great to get to know and understand the process and science, and I guess my understanding was that it did penetrate the meat, but obviously when I think about it that doesn't even make sense. Seriously, thank you guys, especially Chef Jimmy, that was super helpful info, and answered all of the questions ive held for so long about food safety, and people I have seen justifying keeping met even though IT wasn't reached in time (since they didn't probe till after 3 hours or so). I personally never probe for 3 hours or so either, but have always just taken that on faith rather than understanding from Bear and JJ and others.

  16. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Thats why I love you guys! [​IMG]
  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Thanks...Glad to help...JJ

    And thanks to Cats49er for the Point. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
    GaryHibbert likes this.
  18. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    We're lucky to have JJ here. He, along with other members, understand the science behind the cooking.
  19. halfsmoked

    halfsmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG] Again great advice fro JJ and Dave thanks guys.
  20. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    It ought to be plenty tender and juicy too.

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