RE: USDA Response on cooking chicken

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by richtee, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    Solid beef like steak is okay to eat at 125* because bacteria on the surface can't penetrate much more than a 1/32 of an inch. By the time the center of the meat is at 125, the outter meat has long since been Pasteurized. What are the chances of bacteria from the cooking Poultry doing what the e-coli could not?

    The outter portion of the steak has probably been exposed to e-coli when the steer was butchered. Why doesn't the traditional thinking say it's bad to drip e-coli bacteria on Poultry below the beef?
  2. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    Isn't this more a question of intact vs punctured meat? Intact meat will not let contaminated drippings contaminate the internals. The external portion of the meat could be contaminated for a few minutes after the drips, but not long. If there is a probe in there, more of a problem. The bigger question is, do you know when your chicken last dripped? Plus, why do we assume that beef/pork is inherently more safe? I've seen some tests done where the surface of practically all beef and pork have e. coli, and all chicken had salmonella.

    Lets make this simple, would you take a raw chicken and squeeze it over your cooked brisket and assume it's safe? I'll assume not. What about if you cooked the brisket for an extra 30 minutes at 250? I'd assume it's fine at that point, but your mileage may vary.

    EDIT: big steve here mostly beat me to it.
  3. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You know what they say rich.............something about leading horses to water. You made your case, the majority of us also know better, yet some will push the envelope...............for what? I f anyone ever seen how chickens and turkeys were processed, you might not ever eat one. Why would you put one over anything other than another dirty chicken.
    Theres some logic for ya![​IMG]
  4. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Alright Dude thanks, ...I was trying to bring some levity to the thread, my bad.

    Yes, I was complimenting the man for having the gumption to look up the facts and then post it here knowing it went against tradition!

    I thought I made it clear we must practice safe hygiene, common sense and caution whenever we smoke

    That being said, I cook beef and pork at low temps in my GOSM and my chicken at high temps in my WSM, so I don’t have this problem.

    Richtee, I would like to ask you a couple of questions in all sincerity, I hope you see it that way.

    Here are some facts that I have found on the websites of the National Food Safety Database, the US Dept of Agriculture, and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, concerning the dangerous or deadly bacteria common to food preparation and consumption:

    Lactobacillus – that is killed at a temp of 140°

    Salmonella – that is killed at a temp of 160° continuous for 2 minutes, or quicker if the temps are higher

    Trichinosis – that is killed at a temp of 138°


    E.coli - particularly the 0157:H7 strain, which only takes 10 bacterial cells to infect us, that is killed at 160°

    Here is what I don’t understand, if we cook our meat to above these temps internal and the cooking environment is 65°-75° above the temps these bacteria are killed at for 2-4 hours, how could any survive?

    The way I see it, correct me if I'm wrong, but when the bacteria leaves the meat on the top grill in the form of a drip it is exposed to a temp of 225°-250° until it lands on the meat below, seems to me, logically, the bacteria is already dead when it comes in contact with the meat below, what I don't understand is how it can come back to life?

    Another thing I don’t understand is if these bacteria are dripping from a meat, let’s say chicken, on to another meat below it, let’s say chicken again, is that meat unsafe to eat?

    Do you cook chicken over chicken and then eat the chicken that is on the bottom shelf?

    The reason I ask is I have added a middle shelf to my WSM to increase capacity so I have a potential for alot of contaminated meat.

    Thanks for your time, Gene
  5. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    I will continue to put poultry under other meats as well just to be on the safe side.

    Gene this also is from the USDA website
    "If raw meats have been mishandled (left in the "Danger Zone" too long), bacteria may grow and produce toxins which can cause foodborne illness. Those toxins that are heat resistant are not destroyed by cooking. Therefore, even though cooked, meat and poultry mishandled in the raw state may not be safe to eat even after proper preparation"
  6. mikey

    mikey Smoking Fanatic

    Until the USDA comes out with substantiated facts against having chicken over beef or pork, I'll continue to load my smokers according to what takes the longest, which is larger cuts of beef and pork on the bottom and chicken on top.

    I would recommend that members here take a good look at recommended temps for beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc. 130 degrees for beef or lamb is just flat asking for trouble. Under cooked meats are more of a problem than what's drippin' on what, imo.

    There are numerous fact sheets at the USDA site.
  7. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks Piney,

    I understand that, I would like to make it clear that I’m NOT advocating cooking other meats under chicken.

    My question as a newb is very specific to the more experienced, and that is how can the bacteria in a droplet that is falling through a heated environment that is 65°-75° above what it can live at survive and if they do, do they just contaminate beef or is there the potential to contaminate chicken too, i.e. chicken cooked over chicken.

    I mean, …we have the Federal Government saying the testing done in their laboratories is one thing and then we have people on this board saying it’s different in our smokers, so who are we to believe, …all I’m asking is explain to me how it works.

    Thanks, Gene
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If y'all ever saw how poultry was processed before arriving at your residence, you'd probably all toss it in the garbage before cooking it. It has 7 times the bacteria of any other meat. I personally won't cook chicken with anything else other than chicken, and sitting beside it, not under it.
    Now, if I had a horizontal, I'd cook it with other meat, just away from the others. If I had to cook chicken and pork and beef in a vertical on a consistent basis, I'd get a horizontal. (What a great reason for 'having' to get that Lang!).
    But, you're all talking about the END process - that's not as important as the START process.. this is where the real danger lies.
    Rubbing the chicken on the counter, then rubbing the brisket, not sanitizing between meats, setting the pan down on the juices to put the brisket in, then laying the brisket pan down for a sec while opening the door on the kitchen table, then laying out sandwiches for lunch on the same unsanitized surface, picking them up with your fingers then peeling or dicing cooked potatoes for potato salad. You've spread bacteria from the chicken to the brisket and pan to the table to the sandwiches to the potato salad, then eat lunch and by dinner everyone is sick. Don't think it happens? Did to us one Thanksgiving with a raw turkey getting prepared at a relative's house in just about the same manner.
    Wiping up juices with a damp rag or a paper towel isn't sanitary. You have to sanitize the surface with a sanitizing solution. Do you do that before your smoke? That's where the danger and the need for precaution lies.

    Pops §§
  9. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    As he is a professional, he has put it best. Take what Pops posted as gospel.

    As a Food Safety Manager for several years (including the poultry slaughter and further procesing industry) with global food and pharmaceutical corporations, I know that what he says is not only true, but normal manufacturing practices are designed to prevent exactly this from happening. There is continuous sanitation and spraying with chlorinated water over food-contact surfaces all the time in food plants to guard against cross-contamination.

    The easiest and best thing one can do at home is to keep a $1.99 one-quart spray bottle with 2 TBSP household laundry bleach mixed in with the quart of water. Spray down your counters often and every time after handling poultry. This gives you the 200 ppm concentration that is an effective and USDA/FDA approved sanitizing agent.

    okay, done! my 2 cents............[​IMG]
  10. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    very good advice!

    Its the byproduct of these lil germs that cannot be cooked out of foods that will make you sick.

    Some people are giving out some very questionable advice on a site geared to helping newbies.[​IMG] Not cool at all.
  11. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    lots of good info here, and this debate reminds me of one that pops up every now and tehn in hunting circles:

    "is a .22 centerfire (.223, .222rem etc.) enough rifle for deer hunting?"

    the answer, of course, is that even though you can technically kill a deer with it, it isn't the best choice and you should use a different rifle if you have one - if you have to use one, you need to be sure that you get as close as you can in order to take the most fool-proof shot possible with the best chance of penetration and kill. anything less is "stunt shooting"

    same thing applies here - technically you can do it, but there really isn't any reason to do so and plenty of reasons not to. if for some obscure reason you absolutely have to do it, make sure everything is above 160 degrees. anything less is "stunt cooking."
  12. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I think Richtee posed a very legitimate question.

    Seems that brisket or butt should be fine because we take them to a plenty high enough temp ( near or over 200 f )and for plenty long enough.
    His question was specific to a roast pulled at rare ( 130 temps)
    And if you are trying for a rare roast there will at least be one puncture in the meat for a thermo. Any injection sites just add to the # of punctures . 130 will not kill everything as you have listed above.

    Guess that is what I got from his post any ways , no rule should be absolute , there are exceptions to the rule and should be discussed so the folks can understand better and then make their own decisions .
  13. 1894

    1894 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Shot placement and using the bullet (projectile ) best designed for whatever you are hunting is most important.
    Diameter and weight are secondary factors.
  14. mikey

    mikey Smoking Fanatic

  15. bigsteve

    bigsteve Master of the Pit

    LOL. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink? You're calling some of us stubborn with that analogy. The funny thing is, some of us have discussed this open mindedly, only to see others cling to beliefs based on hearsay, that they've held for years. I'm ending my participation in this thread here and now, only because nothing new can really be said at this point.

    I for one, think I was lead to the water, and drank my fill.

    Did you?
  16. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thank you all for your time and informative replies, I have already learned and practice safe food handling, but it’s always good to see them again.

    Thank you pops for you reply about cooking chicken side by side.

    Can we be mature and go beyond any replies that tend to degrade a poster?

    I have a serious concern and question that I would like to have answered with the same scientific criteria as is used to explain, curing, brining, safe meat temps, etc. on this board.

    Here is my concern and the reason for my questions, when I cook for the wife’s family I load up the three shelves in the WSM and cook chicken at 325° take it off and wrap it in heavy aluminum foil and towels and then place it in a cooler that has been preheated with 180° water, then I cook a second batch and wrap it the same way and place in the cooler. I’ve held the chicken for up to 2 hours this way after the second batch was done and when it was served it had only lost about 3°-4°.

    Now with the addition of the GOSM I can cook all of the chicken at the same time, but it still will be stacked chicken over chicken.

    I have cooked for them numerous times and no one has ever fallen sick, …but, I’m asking, is this dangerous?

    Richtee started this thread with a hypothetical situation of bacteria falling from chicken and lodging in a fold on the beef and then not cooking it to the recognized safe temperature for killing bacteria before consumption, ...which we all are in agreement should never be done.

    SO..., assuming safe food handling practices have been observed, again my question still is, won’t the high temp of the smoker kill the bacteria BEFORE it touches the beef or chicken, whatever the case may be, and the meat is taken to the correct temp?

    This isn't hypothetical, it's my life, I’m being adamant about this because I hope to start vending next year and chicken will probably be one of my biggest sellers, I need to know this in advance because I’m leaning towards building a rotisserie style smoker that will allow me to stagger my finished product times.

    Thanks, Gene
  17. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    uh-oh ~ here we go! [​IMG]

  18. slanted88

    slanted88 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Simply stated...I agree with Rich.
  19. kueh

    kueh Meat Mopper

    You're totally safe as long as you cook the chicken to proper temperature. What the proper temperature is might start another debate.
  20. wutang

    wutang Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have been hesitant to post in this thread figuring that both side have said their piece and probably wouldn't be swayed by anything I typed.

    Basically it comes down to this for me: If I made a mistake in food handling or food placement in the smoker and made myself sick that would suck but all in all I only did it to myself. However, if I had to take my 3 year old daughter to the hospital in the middle of the night because I gave her food poisoning just because I did not want to be inconvience by taking the time to sanitize a prep area or hassle with switching racks around then I would not forgive myself.

    If you do it there is some risk involved. That risk might be slight depending on the particular situation. But when it comes to my family and friends eating the food I prepare-it is NOT a risk I will take.

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