Need advice from experienced smokers! My fire went out overnight!

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by morton31, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    First attempt at pulled pork on the BGE and my fire went out overnight.  Here are the details:

    7 pds, started at 6:10 pm.  Temp got too high on the BGE, so slowly reduced BGE temp from 310 to 230 over 5 hours.  By 11:15pm, BGE temp was 230 and internal temp was 145 (may have been 150).

    I made the mistake of going to bed after I thought the BGE temp had stabilized.

    Awoke at 5:15 a.m. to a cold BGE, with pork temp at 133.

    I restarted the coals (in the 10 minutes it took, pork temp reduced to 127). 

    It's 7:30 a.m. and BGE temp is currently at 257, with internal temp of 165.

    Presuming I get to 200 by noon or so, and let the pork rest in foil for a bit, will this pork be safe to eat?
  2. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It probably will be OK since you got it over 140... but that's always a tricky one.
  3. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    Thanks, ellymae.  If it makes a difference, when I squinted awake briefly at 3 a.m., the internal temp was 155....
  4. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would do a search on cooking times and safe temps before you make your final decission about keeping or tossing, but if it was above 140 for that long, looks like at least 4 + hours, you should be OK. the real question is... who you cooking for and are you prepared if for some reason it isn't good?
  5. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    Since this is my first smoke, it's just for me and my spouse. 
  6. motochef

    motochef Newbie

    You should be OK. If you can get to 160 on a reheat of your product that should kill off any issues if you have them. Pork producers have cleaned up their act to the point that trichinosis is almost nonexistent and the cook temp has been dropped to 145 by the FDA. Whole muscle cuts are considered to be sterile. This is not meant to be a rip on you guys with stick burners (it is and art to run one of them) but this is why I love my electric! I'm a one man company and I need my time to make other things sides, shopping and sleep!

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011
  7. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    Thanks MotoChef!  I'll let you know how it goes.  Right now, dome temp is 250 and pork's at 182, so looks like we're back on track. 
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Since this had been above the danger zone, you wouldn't go by the "40˚ to 140˚ in 4 hours" rule.

    I would think you might have to go by the "leftovers" rule from the USDA:

    Pathogenic bacteria do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of a food. In other words, one cannot tell that a food has been mishandled or is dangerous to eat. For example, food that has been left too long on the counter may be dangerous to eat, but could smell and look fine. If a food has been left in the "Danger Zone" – between 40 and 140 °F – for more than 2 hours, discard it, even though it may look and smell good. Never taste a food to see if it is spoiled.


    I'm not sure about this, because in your case it was a whole meat that wasn't disturbed. That might have something to do with it too.

    But Then Here's more:

     Throughout the Kitchen Companion, there are references to keeping food out of the "Danger Zone." Understanding the "Danger Zone" is critical — because bacteria can multiply rapidly in any perishable food that is left in the "Danger Zone" (between 40 and 140 °F) for more than 2 hours. (See Remember the 2-Hour Rule. ) The "Danger Zone" is a potential risk for cold food that goes above 40 °F and hot food that falls below 140 °F. However, it's easy to avoid the "Danger Zone": just keep hot food hot and cold food cold! 

  9. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    Sounds like I'm right on the cusp here.  At 3 a.m., the pork was at 155.  At 5:15, it was 133. 
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Going by that, I would think it would be alright. That is 2 1/4 hours, and a good part of that would be from 155˚ to 140˚.

    But then how much time would be added with the 127˚ back to the 140˚?

    The time you have to worry about is the time from 140˚ down to 127˚, and then from that 127˚ back up to 140˚. That is supposed to be less than 2 hours total.

    At least that is how I would look at it.

  11. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    It took less than 20 minutes to get back above 140, so I'm pry looking at a total of 2 1/2 hours below 140.
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well, If you went by the book (they say 2 hours), You would be advised to toss it, but I would guess if we went exactly by the book we'd be tossing a lot of stuff.

    It's up to you. I won't tell you what to do.

    If it wasn't so close I'd say definitely toss it.

    I've seen people take over 7 hours to get through the 4 hour danger zone!!!  No question in my mind of what to do with that meat !

    Then they reply, "I've been doing it this way for 30 years!!!"

  13. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm a little late to this party but it's good to go in my book. Enjoy!
  14. I just took a shoulder out of the smoker about 20 minutes ago and got it resting in the cooler.  [​IMG]

    I'm really picky about my temps, and I know I pay more attention to them than I need to most of the time, but I would chuck what you made and start over.  If you're worried enough to want to ask others, you'll probably be worried the whole time you're eating it, and the whole evening as well.  Shoulders are cheap; much cheaper than missed work or a doctor bill, especially. 

    Start fresh, stay awake, and use an alarm clock for cat naps!!!  Good Luck!

  15. morton31

    morton31 Newbie

    Well, I ended up throwing caution to the wind and am not sorry.  Thanks for all of the advice/feedback.  The shoulder turned out great.  Nearly 24 hours after eating it, I am symptom-free!
  16. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cool!!!  glad it was good, but give the symptoms another 36 hours. LOL

    I've thrown a ton of meat away in the few years that I been doing this smokin thing by the book and although it hurts to do it, I know I did the right thing by tossing it.

      When readin posts like this,  one can never get the whole story reading it  off the net without assuming a lot of info, but I thought by what you said in the first post it had got to temp in time and shouldn't be a problem.

    Enjoy and watch your temp's better next time. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It wasn't getting to 140 in 4 hours that worried me. As I said in my post, it was the cooling to below 140˚ and back up over 140˚ in longer than 2 hours that I was concerned with.

    Maybe I am reading that wrong, but I could not in good conscience say it was safe.

    Like I often note, a lot has to do with the health of the person consuming it too.

    I might have eaten it myself, but I wouldn't give someone else the All Clear.


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