Questions about Temp

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Original poster
Dec 14, 2013
Webster City, IA
I started some pork butt this morning at 8:00. I injected with apple juice, water, salt, sugar, worchestershire. Meat was on the smoker until 2:30 when an emergency took me away until 6:00. At that time the butt was 156 degrees in the center. I had to think quick so I turned my propane smoker all the way to low and had to hit the road. When i came home the smoker temperature was only 150 and the butt was down to 120. I am in Iowa and the temperature outside is 15 degrees so it is cold outside which impacted the temp of the smoker.

My question is, are the butts still good or should I pitch them?
It sounds like it spent at least 3 hours in the danger zone prior to reaching 156, and possibly 3 more hours below 140 degrees after the smoker cooled down.  Common sense would say do not trust them.  Especially since they were injected. 

I would wait for some experienced people before taking my word for it, though.
Thanks for the reply. My message was poorly worded so i fixed it. The butt was at 156 when I left for the emergency and then it cooled down to 120 when I got back home. Wouldn't bringing it up to 195 kill anything off? I really appreciate the help.
Your post was good.  I added the time from when you started to cook.  If your smoker was at least 225, the butts could have taken over 3 hours to get to 140.  Maybe a little longer.  So it spent at least 2 hours above 140.  But then how fast did it cool off after you turned the smoker down?  No telling, but probably fast in 15 deg. weather.  So you need to know how many hours it spent below 140 degrees after you turned the smoker down.  From 2:30 till 6:00, less than 4 hours. But you now probably have more than 4 hours total in the unsafe zone. 

That is really a tough call.  I believe, but I am not a seasoned pro, that yes, 195 would kill off anything that started growing in there.  If it were just me, and I was on my 3rd, 4th or 5th rum, I would eat it.  But that's just me.

The thing you have to ask yourself is, who am I feeding, and how would I feel if they got food poisoning?  It can affect some people a LOT harder than others.  No meat is worth doing that to anyone.
Very good point. Who knows how bad it will turn out anyway. I think I will have to change plans and smoke a brisket hot and fast tomorrow morning. It will work. Thanks again for your responses.
Sorry I missed this one. The Butt got to 156°F that is essentially cooked and most Bacteria would have been killed. In the very remote chance that there were C. Botulinum spores that got pushed in during injection, any toxin would be destroyed as the meat hit 180°F. Now the meat was in the danger zone, below 140°F for some amount of time. Unless the neighbor or the family dog came over and licked the meat, there was no New Bacteria introduced to the meat. The meat won't suddenly become contaminated just because the temp dropped. There was nothing wrong with the meat and smoking to 190°+ would have eliminated anything even the Dog put on there.

The issue I have with what you described is...There is No Way a 156° Butt can get down to an IT of 120° in a 150°F Smoker. Even if the outside temp was -100°F, it will never go below the smoker temp. Something is off here...JJ is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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