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Pork shoulder safety question


Joined Jul 23, 2016
I'm new to the forum and relatively new to smoking and have a question.  I've searched the site and found a lot of info pertinent to my question but nothing definitive.  And frankly, I may not get a definitive answer.  I set up my smoker early this morning and put an 8lb bone in pork butt on it.  I had let it get close to 200 before putting the pork on, which was coming from the fridge.  My intention was to get the smoker to 230-240 for the duration.  Unfortunately, a complication unrelated to the smoking caused me to have to leave for several hours not long after starting it, (and more than I intended).  The smoker was 205 at this point. The smoker stayed on while I was gone (my wife was home, so i wasn't concerned about the safety of leaving in unattended; however, she doesn't know enough about it to tend to it).  When I returned, the smoker was still about 205.  The pork had been on for about 8 hours at this point.  I checked the meat temperature and it was 150. I wrapped it in foil and moved to the oven at 275 because I assume that it would take too long to reach the target internal temperature with the smoker running so low.   However, I became concerned that I have no idea how long it took to get to 140 and may end up discarding it.

I'm not concerned with addressing the issue of the smoker not getting to the target temperature; I'll sort that later.  And it's not realistic to expect to an answer timely enough to help with this session but if for no other reason than curiosity, I'm wondering what more experienced smokers would have done.  The meat was not injected or probed during the time in question.  Without the ability to check the meat's internal temperature at the 4-5 hour mark, would you have been concerned about it's safety?


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 27, 2008
No, your pork shoulder will be fine and completely safe to eat. Since it was bone-in and not injected or otherwise compromised, then you need only to get into a cooker to pasteurize the surface and maintain a reasonable cooker temperature thereafter. 205* isn't optimal, but it's not low enough to raise concern. 225* is considered as an acceptable temp, although there are many of us who have smoked shoulder and brisket lower than that.


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