Questionable meat storage temp issue. input / thoughts please Updated

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by sprky, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My local Eagles is throwing a corned beef feed tomorrow. In the walk in cooler there is 4 cases of  corned beef flats for the feed. When I went in to have a cold one today after work I learned that someone left the cooler door ajar and cooler temp was at 55 degrees. The cooler is normally at 34 degrees, and these cases had been in there for 3 days so I am relatively positive they were at 34 degrees, prior to the door being left ajar. The person that found the door ajar didn't take a temp reading on the surface temp of the corned beef, only felt it. She said they felt cold so didn't think any thing about it.

    My problem with this is, this will be feed to the public and the cooler temp was 15 degrees above max safe holding temp, and we don't know what the surface temp of the corned beef was, nor do we know for how long it was above 40.  I stated in my opinion we should NOT feed this to the public. I realize there is a bunch of salt and there is cure in it as well, but still question whether it is a good idea to feed this to the public. Am I being overly cautious? Whats your all's thoughts and input on this. 


    If the general consensus is too not feed this to the public I am going to print it out and show them I am not alone on this. And hope they agree. 
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Check the temp of the top layer, then the 2nd layer....   There is no way the internal packs got warm...  Then find the guy and put him on unemployment....   My $0.02...  Dave
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    You should be able to get an idea of who was in the freezer and how long the door had been open.  Just because the air temp of the cooler was 55 it doesn't necessarily mean the meat temp moved a whole lot.  But I sure be if someone gets sick and knows the cooler had been left open or is someone tells the health inspector what happened there would be no place to hide.
  4. We used to operate a cafe and always felt you should err on the side of caution.  If the cases were stacked on top of each other the bottom ones would probably be a safer bet.  Also cryovac would prohibit the growth of bacteria.  i would be leery.
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sound familiar???....I would have to concur with this answer, Ms. Schlitt has Great Credentials...Since it was Cryovaced in a Salt Brine with Cure and there is no doubt the meat will be cooked VERY WELL DONE to be tender and it is probably from a National Kosher Packer that is Required to have very high sanitation standards, I would think it safe...BUT...EXCEPTIONAL SANITION MUST BE PRACTICED FROM THIS POINT ON... Wash the Beef Thoroughly, place in fresh water with whatever and cook it well above 165*F and cook ALL of the meat, do not Raffle any off, or give any away. Handle leftovers properly, cooling in 2" pans to under 40*F within 1-2 hours tops, use in 3 days or discard. Lastly, Keep The Walk-in Door Closed! An over temp alarm would be a good idea..JJ

    Food Safety Issues/Corned beef safety

    Expert: Carol Schlitt - 3/12/2012

    I recently bought some fresh / raw corned beef brisket for an upcoming party. I stored it in our spare refrigerator in our cold garage overnight. The following morning I found that the door to the refrigerator was slightly opened. I checked the internal temperature of the meat and saw a 54 degree reading from my instant reading thermometer. I know that the general rule is to keep food below 40 or above 140 degrees. However, since corned beef is cured and stored in a cryovac bag, is it still safe for consumption if cooked immediately?

    Thank you in advance!

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    Hi Jeff,

    Corned beef is a product that is brined in a salt solution which gives it it's characteristic salty flavor. Because of the salt cure, many harmful bacteria do not grow as rapidly.

    Since you discovered the beef while it was still relatively cool, I would cook the meat immediately, making sure that the internal temperature of the meat is at least 165 degrees. Chances are very, very good that your brisket is safe for consumption since it was not in the danger zone an extended amount of time and it was a brine cured meat in a cryovac bag.

    Of course, there is still a possibility of bacterial contamination because of the elevated temperature, but I feel with the type of meat and packaging, the chances for contamination are extremely low.

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  6. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This whole matter is still up for debate, the final decision will be made tomorrow morning between 6 and 7, so if we decide to replace we have time to get some together in time for the feed. As of right now I am on the fence as to whether the whole bunch should be replaced. since the bottom 3 cases were below  40 I don't think they got much above 40. Serving the public is what has me worried. 
    I though of doing this exact same thing. The only problem was the door had been shut for over 4 hours, so it wasn't 100% accurate. The top case read 44, 40, 39, 39, the second third and fourth cases read 36-34. I drooped the ball here by not including this info in my original post.
    WE are working on finding out who left it open, we have a very good idea it was the bar tender last night but have not had a chance to talk with her yet. 

    Since the original post I have a better idea of a time line. The bar closed up at 8 pm last night, no one entered the club till noon today and that was the gal that found it open. so it was open for around 16 hours. And this is exactly what has me worried. 

    This is what I am thinking as well that more then Likely the bottom 3 cases are fine, the top case has me worried the most. Another point I left out in my original post is they are the same type of corned beef like you buy at the store in the vac sealed bags. 
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Based on your time line I think you have no worries but to err on the side of caution, you can toss the first case, but I feel 100% safe with the others...JJ
  8. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Jimmy that makes me feel better about agreeing to cooking it. 
  9. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Well after lots of discussion and hashing things over every one agreed to not cook and serve the top case to the public, and thoroughly cook the others.  We went out and bought another case from a local store. cost us 1 1/2 times what the original cost, but in my opinion it's money well spent. We also decided that if at all possible once we confirm who left the cooler door ajar we are going to charge them, for the replacement. Gotta run that past legal first. I brought up the suggestion of a temp alarm again and was told bring it up at the next board meeting with cost. (they now see the benefits of it.)

    We placed non used case in the freezer and will decide what to do with it later. Before it can be given to people or tossed the board must approve it. It's a CMA thing. Once the board approves of it's disposable I will take some of it from the lower layers. Some may also be cooked up for our dinner meetings. 

    This has to be the best washed corned beef around. We used our 4 compartment sink opened and dumped all juices in first sink and quick rinsed placed in second sink that was filled with water to soak a bit. then was thoroughly rinsed in the next two. Gloves were changed after every layer. The prep work took almost twice as long, but was time well spent.  Normally no one takes a temp reading on the meat, it's just cooked in simmering water/beer for 5-6 hours. This time every one will be checked and if its not 185 back in it goes. Hope it tastes as good as normal but I think it will have a tad bit less flavor since we didn't use the juices that were in the bags.
  10. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    sounds like y'all have a plan. 185 is a lil high. 165 is good enough to be safe.
  11. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well the corned beef feed went off with out any one getting sick to my knowledge. I assure ya if someone was going to be sick I think I would have been. I ate a ton of it. I was cooking and slicing so I had to sample the product ya know.  We cooked up all 4 cases and only had 5 1/2 corned beefs left. We cooked up 100 pounds of cabbage and had to go get more, think final tally was 150. out of the 125 pounds of taters we had a few left. It was a very busy day that is for sure. I thought the flavor would be less due to not using the juices from the bags in the boil. However I couldn't tell much if any difference, seamed less salty but would have to do a side by side comparison to be 100% sure. I keep trying to convince them we need to do a smoked brisket or PP feed, but since no one has a smoker big enough to do it in one shot they don't seam that interested. I keep telling them ya can smoke it ahead and reheat it with out a problem, but they are not buying into that. One of these days I am going to take some PP to a meeting that has been done awhile back and prove it to them. I just cant seam to keep enough to do that. My 2 boys are always getting into the smoky goodness that's in the freezer.
    We decided on 185 to be extra safe. Several wanted to cook it to a higher temp after reading the posts that JJ posted, they interpreted what he was saying as too cook it beyond the 165. I didn't see any harm in it as I smoke my briskets to the 190 range. 
  12. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Glad it turned out well for you. Hope it raised a lot of $$ for you 
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sprky, morning..... Good deal.... all went OK....  Congrats to you and the crew.... 

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