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Safety question

hillbillyrkstr

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I bought a few tuna steaks individually vacusealed and frozen and thawed them in the fridge since Friday. I planned on cooking them today but stuff got in the way. I wanted to grill them tomorrow and when I went to check on them today I noticed it said I should have cut them out of the vacuseal before thawing them. I looked it up and there is a spore danger. I don't know a lot about this so I'm leaving it up to the people on these forums with far more knowledge than me on this subject. Chuck them? Or grill them? Hopefully y'all can teach me something on this matter. Thanks.
 

SmokinAl

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I PM'd JJ & hopefully he will respond as soon as he gets on.

I did the same thing that you did & ate them with no ill effects.

But I certainly wouldn't tell you to do the same.

I'm very interested in what JJ will say!

Al
 

SmokinAl

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I also moved this to the food safety section.

Al
 

hillbillyrkstr

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Thanks al. I'd hate to chuck them but at the same time I'm not sure I want to take the chance. Maybe I'll grill them and then go do some yard work while the wife eats one. If she's alive when I'm done I'll assume all is well. :)
 

wade

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If they were frozen until Friday and they have been thawed out in the fridge over the weekend then they will be fine to eat today if you (and whowever else is eating them) is fit and well. If you are concerned then make sure that they are well cooked. Spores will not be a problem over such a short period of time and at those temperatures. Botulinum (if present) for instance will take about 10 days under anaerobic conditions to produce sufficient toxin to potentially cause illness in most fit humans.

For other bacteria do the smell test. Take them out of the pack and rinse them and snif. This is not a foolproof test but it is a good indication that they have not spoiled.
 
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hillbillyrkstr

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I appreciate the info wade. Only issue now is Tuna steak is best when it's basically just cooked on the outside. That's kind of why I'm worried.
 

wade

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Is your main concern that they were that they were defrosted on Friday or that they were defrosted in the vacuum pack?

The main risks to health when thawing vacuum packed fish are Botulinum and Listeria. Provided the fish has come from a reputable source, and therefore correctly handled during processing, in the time period you are referring to neither should be a problem. Botulinum spores are all around us and it is only when they start to produce toxin that they become a threat to health. As I mentioned above the short time you are talking about will rule out a serious health risk from Botulinum. Listeria will multiply however in the timescales you are referring to should not prove a problem for fit healthy adults. You would be best avoiding feeding the Tuna to anyone who is young, "old", pregnant, or has an impaired immune system.

Personally, if it was mine and it looked and smelled fresh when removed from the packaging I would cook and eat it as normal. The final decision though has to be yours. The saying "if in doubt chuck it out" has a lot of truth in it. The more you understand the process behind what is going on the less doubt you will have in situations like this. However, even if it IS perfectly safe to eat but you are not sure - would you  enjoy it as you were eating it?
 

daveomak

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Vacuum packed fish is an excellent way to purchase fish in the grocery store. Vacuum packaging keeps the fish from drying out by preventing water loss. Vacuum packaging, also called Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP) is used because it allows for an extended shelf life in the freezer by reducing off odors and texture changes which may result in spoilage. When food is vacuum packed, air is sucked out of the packaging and then the packaging is hermetically sealed. Fish packaged this way are very popular in grocery stores, it’s important to handle the fish correctly.

What’s the concern? Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes are the bacteria of primary concern when thawing vacuum packed fish.

Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) is an anaerobic bacteria (meaning they live and grow in low oxygen conditions) that forms spores which allow it to survive in unfavorable conditions. When the right conditions are present, the spore will develop into a vegetative cell which can produce a deadly toxin. The toxin causes a life threatening disease call botulism.

In order to prevent the production of the toxin, Michigan State University Extension advises it is important to keep food such as fish that is vacuum packaged (no oxygen) at the proper temperature. C. botulinum forms toxin more rapidly at higher temperatures than at lower temperatures. As storage increases above 38 degrees Fahrenheit, the time required for toxin formation is significantly shortened. Many home refrigerators have temperatures above 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, if thawing the fish in cold water, the temperature may also be above 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

 Labeling on frozen fish products in ROP packaging will state: The fish should be kept frozen until time of use and prior to the fish being thawed under refrigeration or prior to or immediately upon completion of thawing, the fish should be removed from the packaging. By opening the packaging when thawing the vacuum packaged fish, oxygen is present and the spores will not produce the vegetative cells that produce the toxin.

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can contaminate food. If present, it can cause a serious illness primarily for high risk individuals such as older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. Unlike many bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator. Vacuum packed fish is not commercially stable or shelf-stable and must be refrigerated. Even while thawing, it is very important to following thawing guidelines provided by the processor.

Vacuum packaged fish results in a tasty and superior product when it is prepared. It is important to follow thawing recommendations when preparing the product at home.
 

hillbillyrkstr

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I actually looked that same article up a few minutes ago Dave. Is that a "I would throw it out if it was mine" from you?

Wade I'm gonna open it when I get home and smell it. Still not sure what I'm gonna do yet. I'm concerned because it was thawed in th vacuseal. My refrigerator is set at 37 I believe. I'll check again when I get home.
 

daveomak

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Botulism and Listeria do not have any odor as far as I know....   Botulism is the deadliest pathogen known to man...   

Anywho, opening vac-packed stuff before thawing is a very good idea...  botulism can show up anywhere...    If you clean root veggies on your kitchen counter, botulism could be present...  

Fishes have shown the possibility of botulism, depending on their locale ....  

If I knew the temp of the refer, where the fish was in the refer, (coldest part) I would eat it.... 

You can't get fish up to a high enough temp to kill the "bug"..  182 deg. F will kill it...   BUT.... it is  the spores that grow that will get you also...  240+ needed to kill the spores...   pressure canner temps....

If you have doubts, pressure can it...   I know that sucks when you were looking for some great tuna steaks...   Home canned tuna is soooooo much better than store bought stuff....  I've canned probably 20-30 cases of albacore....  that stuff is good....
 

atomicsmoke

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This is a mount - mole hill thing.

Botulism toxin does not appear that quickly, especially a low temps. Spores don't kill you the toxin does. Even if the toxin is present (is not) frying the fish, even rare would denaturate the surface toxin.

If you are concerned about this don't buy fresh fish fillet ever again. The fillets are staked in styrofoam boxes. A lot of the surface area lacks exposure to oxygen during shipping, storage . Many days...

Or vacuum packed beef in the open displays at the supermarket .
 

hillbillyrkstr

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I believe my fridge is set at 37 I'll have to look after work. And the tuna was sitting on the top shelve since Friday around 3pm.
 

wade

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Hillbillyrkstr - Food safety is obviously a very important matter and we all need to be very careful. Consider though whether, if you had brought the fish fresh on Friday and had left it in the fridge wrapped in the clinging plastic wrap (that raw fish is often covered with in the shop and which effectively provide an anaerobic environment against the surfaces to which it clings) and then put in a plastic bag and subsequently left it in the fridge over the weekend, would you be worrying now?

Dave - you are quite correct when you say that "Botulism is the deadliest pathogen known to man..."  The toxin it produces is anyway. The actual spores though are not. They are around us all the time in soils and on surfaces. And as you say, most of the fresh root vegetables that we buy have Botulinum spores on them. The problem is when they are stored anaerobically at temperatures above freezing. Even then, it takes time for any Botulinum spores that were present to produce sufficient toxin to potentially be harmful to healthy adult humans. At < 4C (40 F) this is measured in excess of 10+ days and so is much longer than we are seeing here. Just because "Fishes have shown the possibility of botulism" this does not mean that it is a problem given correct handling and storage. As Botulism and Listeria are highly unlikely to be a problem in this case, we are really trying to smell for the presence of any other general food spoilage organisms.

To be clear though Dave, as I am getting mixed messages from your posts, are you suggesting that in this case there is a real danger of Botulinum or Listeria poisoning and that in your view it should be thrown away (as inferred from your first post), or are you saying that you would actually be happy to eat it if it had been kept in the refrigerator below 40 F (as in your last post) ?
 

chef jimmyj

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This is a mount - mole hill thing.

Botulism toxin does not appear that quickly, especially a low temps. Spores don't kill you the toxin does. Even if the toxin is present (is not) frying the fish, even rare would denaturate the surface toxin.

If you are concerned about this don't buy fresh fish fillet ever again. The fillets are staked in styrofoam boxes. A lot of the surface area lacks exposure to oxygen during shipping, storage . Many days...

Or vacuum packed beef in the open displays at the supermarket .
Exactly...At 176°F the toxin is inactivated in 3 minutes. Above 182 the toxin is instantaneously destroyed. A Cast Iron Pan gets above 500°F. Clostridium Botulinum, Listeria Spores ar anything else on the planet will quickly be TOAST!. If Sashimi was the dinner plan, I would say toss it but even seared Rare, if it ain't stinky or smells of Ammonia from decomp, you will be fine. 

Wade makes a good point that while at temps close to 40°F, CB Spores can produce toxin, it takes in excess of a week and there is NO WAY you would have attempted to eat any Fish that been sitting in the refer 7+ days...JJ
 

hillbillyrkstr

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Steaks were grilled last night to 130 degrees. Higher than I wanted but I turned around for a minute and Scout (my pup) had wandered off. I was only away from the grill a few minutes and they shot up from just over 100 to 130.

Thanks everyone for your help and advice in this thread. I appreciate it and I learned a lot. And thanks to Wade, and JJ for the info they sent me.
 

wade

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They look good Scott. I am glad you enjoyed them in the end 
 

chef jimmyj

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  This right here in your pic is where I like mine. Seared outside, raw and cool in the middle. Glad to help. Would have been a shame to toss these beauties....JJ
 

atomicsmoke

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I make carpaccio out of these steaks quite often. I never bother to cut open the packaging for thawing. Truth is they won't be melting for long since I want them partially frozen when I slice them.
 

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