Smoker went out on my Pork Butt - Is it Safe?

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Kraig

Newbie
Original poster
Dec 25, 2023
2
3
This is a safety question more than a smoking one. Quick summary: 9lb butt (not injected, bone in) went in smoker at 1:30 AM for overnight smoke on my traeger. I woke up at 7:00 and it looked like the meat had not even started its cook. Wife said she saw lights go on and off at around 230. Not sure what happened but sounds electrical. Thinking it never really even got going...just the raw meat in closed smoker for 6 hrs. It was 40 to 44 degrees outside if that makes any difference. Don't know internal temp or anything was not even going to prove until I woke.
 
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This is a safety question more than a smoking one. Quick summary: 9lb butt (not injected, bone in) went in smoker at 1:30 AM for overnight smoke on my traeger. I woke up at 7:00 and it looked like the meat had not even started its cook. Wife said she saw lights go on and off at around 230. Not sure what happened but sounds electrical. Thinking it never really even got going...just the raw meat in closed smoker for 6 hrs. It was 40 to 44 degrees outside if that makes any difference. Don't know internal temp or anything was not even going to prove until I woke.
The short answer is, I don't know if it's safe.

Expanding to the long version. You have in your favor that it's a whole butt, not injected, so little opportunity for bacteria to get inside and grow. And it was fairly cool outside. Balanced against that, it's likely that your smoker was working fine from 1:30 am till the power outage around 2:30, so it's likely that the surface of the meat got above the safe minimum temp of 40F for awhile, even if the meat doesn't look like much happened. Since the smoker provides some insulation against the outside temp, and the outside temp didn't go below 40F anyway, the outside of the butt was probably in a danger zone temp for for several hours...although conventional wisdom is that you can be in that danger zone of 40F to 140F for up to 4 hours, and it sounds like you were within that window at 7 am...though I don't know what happened to the butt after that.

So I'd say it's a definite maybe, perhaps leaning towards the sketchy side to my way of thinking.
 
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Smoke away your safe.

Chris

 
Noone can guarantee the safety but I can comment on what I'd personally do. If I was confident that the power went out at 230 and it was 40-44F outside I would likely go with it. Again thats just an opinion on my personal risk assessment
 
Hmm, I really do feel for ya Kraig. Butt in the smoker for approximately an hour before the power cycled. It's a bit dicey not knowing what temp the outside of the meat got to before it went off but would think it started to get warm enough for bacteria to notice. The safe side of me says toss it. What you've experienced is a classic example of why it's so important to have a monitoring set of temp probes (at lest one in the protein and another measuring the grate temps) that can alert you bedside when temps are not where they should be.
 
I say cook it, but don't plan on it. You can be a test subject and try a small amount.
Have a plan B in place.
 
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That bites... Sorry that happened to you.
IMHO:
I have had 2 bad cases of food issues, one from Ranch dressing left out and another from bad fried chicken. So... I would toss it and not risk getting everyone sick.

- Jason
 
Kind of curious if K Kraig is a one and done poster, or if he was literally one and done.

How did it go Kraig?

Chris
 
Thank you to everyone for your feedback. I forged ahead. The decision was Really not motivated by the loss of money. But there was some real influence from the huge pain in the butt. It would have been to go out and get a new butt on christmas morning or rearrange the menu that was otherwise prepared. From a safety perspective my decision was moslty influenced by the fact that the meat itself was bone in and I did not inject anything and It was also 40° throughout the night. Although I'm sure a bit warmer inside the smoker. I would (likely) not have proceeded this if it was 80° in the summer. It also affected my decision that I was only a couple hours outside of that "four hour rule." I did also have a real good amount of salt on that Butt which I know itself won't make THE difference but just another factor that I considered. The end result...it was the best butt ever. I did kick up the heat a little more than I usually would have. I think I read every possible response there was out there on this matter and there clearly seems to be a split of thought on this (largely aligned with one's stomach for risk.) I feel I made a calculated decision and im fortunate that it worked out. Lesson learned to never forget to set an alarm for the ambient heat if you do an overnight smoke.
 
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