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Your thoughts on two questions

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by ecducit, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. First question:

    How long can cooked bacon set out at room temperature?

    - I regularly repair equipment in a popular fast food chain.  They have strict food safety practices.  Yet, they'll have a rack of precooked bacon setting out that's not kept at any certain temperature as their other foods.  There may be some time monitoring that I don't see, but everything else they sell has stickers for expiration - even their iced tea.

    - As a side question to the above, years ago a friend and I had a bunch of folks over.  All the requisite finger foods were available.  One of those snack items were sausage balls.   Well, that was on Saturday.  On Sunday, the leftover sausage balls still sat - on the unused stovetop.  Come lunchtime, my firend snacked on a few with a lunch.  I said that's nuts and was told there wasn't anything wrong with those ba...uh...sausage balls. 

    Okay, now my real second question:

    If I marinade a meat (presently a steak) before grilling (direct heat), is it okay to do so at room temperature?

    -The reason I ask is, well...I always have.  I usually stick to some time constraints based upon the meat and the marinade I use.  The longest I'll marinade WITHOUT refrigeration is usually two hours.  So, what I'm getting at is that allot of you set your meats out for at least thirty minutes before grilling or smoking anyway.  I always felt I got better penetration of the marinade into the meat at room temperature.  YET - many instructional videos/programs/website references will state that you should marinade in the refrigerator.  I can't see any harm NOT doing that so long as I'm well within the 40 to 140 (or 135) in four hours window.
  2. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    On the grill is a whole nuther animal than the smoker.

     It's no problem getting a steak thru the danger zone on a hot grill in less than an hour . so marinading while in that zone is not really a problem.

     If you are going to do a low and slow smoke , Then i know from my experiance that a full smoker may make me borderline on the 4 / 140  mark. so all marinades will be done under refridgeration.
  3. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I'm not a FDA cop but the staple around here is 40*-140* in 4 hours and that usually is talked about poultry. That's what I heed by. I toss any marinade when I put the meat on or bring to 200* in a sauce pan for a brush on or reduce it for a glaze.
  4. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good advice above on the marinade protocols;  I wouldn't vary those.  Don't know about the bacon question, but I don't think I would eat it if unrefrigerated more than 3-4 hours (assuming it's well cooked & not wiggly!).
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I have to agree with Bob (eman) with this one and say that as long as you stay under the 40° to 140° in four hours you should be fine to grill your steak but I would watch the clock if you want to smoke it thou. As for the bacon I would think that if it is just left out in the open with no covering or anything I would be have think twice on eating it. For those meatballs yout friend ate I think that it wasn't very smart to eat but then. When you are young you always belong to that thinking "when your dumb you have to be tough" 
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with everyone before me on this thread.

    I will add, If you can grill your steak to a safe completion temp in under 20 minutes on your grill, I see no problem with taking a steak out of a "below 40˚ refrigerator, and marinating it at room temp for 3 1/2 hours. That would make the total time of being between 40˚ and 140˚ less than 4 hours.

    Just my two pennies,

  7. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Personally I like to go from fridge to high heat grill. Strictly because I like a nice char-grilled outside finish on my steaks, but a med-rare inside. By going from the fridge to the grill I can get a better finish on the outside of the steak but not overcook the inside.

    But that is just my personal choice. You should be fine marinading at room temp since you are only marinating for an hour or so.
  8. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    as for the bacon, our local heath dept. allows us to keep fully cooked bacon unrefrigerated daily........and they are kinda strict.
  9. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    I agree with what you said entirely, unless I'm gonna smoke mine first, but I was just answering the original question on the danger zone.

    I would not do that, but it should be safe.

  10. Now I might not know much but isn't bacon cured?

    Edit:  Now that I think of it my wife brought home a sample box of that Hormel fully cooked microwaveable bacon that doesn't need to be refrigerated.  Just in case your wondering it's kinda meh.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  11. Well you know more than I do.  Read that and ran straight to the fridge and read the package.  Yes...with a list of things including something ending in nitrates.  I guess I need to do more reading on here to understand the various stages/methods of meat curing and preservation.  I'd gone briefly to the FDA's site on food safety awhile back (thanks to a link on this forum) but found nothing specific regarding bacon.  Maybe in the context of cured meats I'd find my answer.

    Somebody in another thread here made mentioned of hams sold here in Tennessee.  I too was befuddled by how they can sell hams (they call them country hams) that aren't refrigerated.  Yet, over in the meat case they have the refrigerated version (they call city hams).  The distinct difference in taste explains allot.  Some brands of those country hams are so salty they're hardly palatable. 
  12. blacknosecorey

    blacknosecorey Fire Starter

    WOO HOO!  Something the new guy CAN answer.  Leave the steaks out until they are room temp. and then start to cook.  You'll have the best results by starting at room temp.
  13. dalton

    dalton Smoke Blower

    I would have to agree with the post on the bacon being a cured meat.  the same with the country hams, I believe they are cured as well.  "curing" ( I use that word losely because there is much variance in the percieved definition) does not make the end product spoil proof but depending on the type of cure will make the meat extreamly resistant to "most" bacteria.  food preservation is all about bacteria control and when you cure the meat you change the chemical compostion of the meat making it very difficult for most bacteria to grow! 

    on the same note the sausage you mentioned would depend on how it was prepared.  was it cured before cooking?  if so my limited understanding is that it will be more bacteria resistant for a much longer period of time.  the funny thing is that there are only a few type of orginisms that grow on food that are specifically "toxic" to our bodys.  things like salmonella, the botulism bacteria, e-coli, and a few others will make us sick and can do real harm, but these are the specific things that cureing with nitrates and nitrites protect against.  but the majority of the molds and other things that we associate with spoiled food are not as harmfull to our body as we think.  now don't get me wrong... I am not suggesting that you go out and eat any moldy or spoiled food but as I understand it if you did the risk is much lower than we think it to be.  remember that it was not that long ago in our history that refridgeration was readily availible to the average person.  humans survived for several thousand years without having a fridge or freezer by curing with salts and nitrates, smoking and drying meat and other things. 

    just my 2 cents (well maybe 4)
  14. princess

    princess Smoking Fanatic

    ::puts on super nerd hat::

    OOOh! I can help here too!!

    According to the fsis.gov website, once food has been cooked, the "Safe Zone" is two hours (unless it is being 'held' at 140* or higher)  This time is reduced to 1 HOUR if the ambient temperature is 90* or more.

    The requirements can (and do) VARY dramatically if the cooked food item is COMMERCIALLY CURED.  Individual states can be more or less strict than the federal guidelines, so that could affect things too.

    So here's my $.02: 

    Once food has been cooked, eat it or fridge it within 2 hours (unless it's hot out - over 90*, then one hour)  

    Don't take chances. 


  15. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Most of the restaurants doing the long hold on Bacon are using the A(w) and PH ratio to indicate a shelf stable product after cooking.  If they had nitrite used in their packaging and were cooked within seven days of the package being open, there is a legal way to allow bacon, ham, and "cured" sausages to sit at room temperature.  The product also has to come from a processing plant following 9 CFR part 417 and has to have a few other considerations regarding A(w) and PH to ensure the consumers safety.

    So it can be done for bacon pretty easy, the sausage balls would depend on whether is was a fresh sausage or a cured sausage.

    Personally I reefer everything shelf stable or not, it is not worth the risk IMO.

    Steak is no problem as others have stated.  But a cold steak is easier to hold medium rare to rare on then a room temperature steak.   As temperature increases so does water activity (A(w)) making heating of a warm piece of meat more effecient that heating a cold piece of meat.  So for a good outer char on a medium rare to rare steak the colder it starts the easier it is to control the finishing center temperature.

    Think of water activity in simple stiffness terms.... the colder a steak the stiffer it feels, the stiffer it feels the slower the water activity.  (This is why many of us do not temp steaks, we simply press on it till the stiffness indicates the correct level of finish.)
  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  17. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I make them, or I make a knock off of them.  Takes a Haccp plan.
  18. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Most restaurants pre-cook bacon about half way then leave it on the counter until an order comes in, then they put it on the grill & it only takes a couple of minutes to finish it off. I'm sure this is OK with the Health Dept. I don't know what they do with the bacon that is not used in the meal that they were pre-cooking for. It probably goes into some lunch recipe. If any of you worked in a restaurant as a chef it would be nice to know how this works.
  19. bbqfarmer

    bbqfarmer ImpEx - Users Awaiting Email Confirmation

    You can leave cooked bacon out all day without a problem but after a day it would depend on how much salt was in it.

    Likewise, if you marinade meat it depends on what you are marinading it in.  It is safest to do it cold but if the marinade has a lot of vinegar in it the meat should be safe. 

    You can read this little thing on food safety at http://www.smokepistol.com/foodsafety.html  and then just think in those terms.  I hope this helps.
  20. ondagawood

    ondagawood Smoke Blower

    I work in a restaurant and I see a 1/3 pan of cooked bacon resting right near the grill. First, its warm and they do slap it down on the grill (or flat top) to heat it up for the burger, etc... Second, as most of you have stated it is cured and depending on room temperatures it does stay stable for a while. Next time I'm at the rest. I'll ask & let you all know.

     Happy New Year !


    P.S. - as far as the meat to grill question - room temp to grill is preferred, if its cold you have two temperatures fighting each each other and the molecular structure can suffer (I know to detailed), you can still get a good sear at high temp, then turn temp down to finish it off, good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010