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Food Safety Continued

edited 3:58PM in EggHead Forum
Yo to all, Last week there was a thread where someone asked whether a pork butt he had been cooking was safe to eat after he had "recooked" it to 190F after it had been partially cooked to a temperature less than 140F and then the fire went out in his egg. The pork butt sat for up to 14 hours in a 20F temperature environment before being "recooked." [p]This person was given conflicting advice as a few people said yes and others said no. From my time spent lurking here and the e-mails I have received, I am aware this is not the first time people have advocated that pork cooked like this is safe to eat. As Jim Minion stated, each case is different and I agree.[p]I was doing some research on food safety which I accessed from the USDA Food Information link on the web-page: [p][p]Within this page there is another page that lists information written by the USDA on safely cooking pork. What is listed between the lines has been cut and pasted from the link below. It should clear up any arguments we have had on the situation that I have discussed here.
PARTIAL COOKING[p]Never brown or partially cook pork, then refrigerate and finish cooking later, because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. It is safe to partially pre-cook or microwave pork immediately before transferring it to the hot grill to finish cooking.
______________________________________________________________________[p]I would suggest that anyone concerned with food safety check out the entire site I have listed above as it is informative, complete and comes from a reliable source. Reliable if you trust our government that is. :-)[p]Beers to all,[p]Juggy D Beerman

[ul][li]Cooking Pork Safely[/ul]


  • Butch MButch M Posts: 52
    Juggy D Beerman,
    Thank you so much for taking your time to research this important topic. I read the article with great interest, but I am confused. Please understand that I seeking information, NOT confrontation. [p]If I were to partially cook pork, then refrigerate and finish cooking later to a temperature above 160, why would any bacteria present not destroyed? Can someone please explain this?

  • Butch M,
    If you sear or brown meat and then refrig, you will never had reach the 140º so the bacteria never killed. Even at
    40º bacteria will grow but at slower rate. By that short cook you accelerated the growth of bacteria meaning that once you do go to 160º there is a higher than normal amount of toxins left behind.
    The solution is to sear or brown and then go into the cook right away.

  • Butch MButch M Posts: 52
    Jim Minion,
    Thanks Jim. Now I understand.

  • BBbrewBBbrew Posts: 33
    Juggy D Beerman,[p]Good info. You are right, but allow me to point out a few of descrepencies when it comes to USDA food guidelines and the art of BBQ:[p]1) You will never find a government guideline that even romotely addresses or condones what we all do as BBQ-ers almost every weekend. By it's very nature, cooking a pork butt at 225 degrees for 12 hours is dangerous and not considered good food handeling practice by the goverment. Period. What we are doing isnt even on the government charts and makes the food scientists at the USDA cringe to even think about it.[p]2) Most food guidelines recommend cooking pork and poultry to at least 180 degrees (Yeah, I know that we are slowly starting to see some 160's quoted, but MOST recommendations are still in the 180 range. Just look at any meat thermometer with pre-printed "idiot proof" meat markings).
    Now we all (hopefully) bring our pork butts up to well over 180 because this is the point were the pork becomes tender and pullable. But, it isnt necessarily for safety sake, it is beacuse the pork is highly edible at this stage. That said, I know a lot of pork loin roasts get cooked on Eggs. How many accomplished Eggers out there actually bring a boneless pork loin roast up to 180? I know I dont. Gets a little dry at that temp dont it?[p]How about those rare and medium rare steaks? Ever see a food safety guideline recommend that?[p]3) Any time the government gives advice, they are taking on liability. Therefore conservatism and safety factors are built into ALL recommdations (Big brother wants to make damn sure tht you dont hurt yourself ;). The fact is that bacteria (MOSTLY, but also toxins in those rare cases of botulism) build up in food by letting it rest in the "danger zone" for too long. However it is important to keep in mind that both bacteria AND toxins are destroyed if the food is brought up to the proper temperature for the proper length of time. [p]The government will not tell you this because they figure that if you are stupid enought to let your meat sit in the danger zone for too long, then you are not smart enough to make sure that you bring it up to the proper temperature afterwords. It makes perfect sense from their standpoint and if it was your job to publish food recommendations for the entire U.S. population, you would do the exact same thing.

  • Wise OneWise One Posts: 2,645
    BBbrew, good comments. It is a fine line we walk about cooking meat that is tasty and meat that is safe. Hopefully we can do both but if we have to err, let's err on the side of safe. What an individual does is pretty much left up to them. However, when we provide guidelines to a public audience, we should provide those that are safe.

  • BBbrewBBbrew Posts: 33
    Wise one,[p]Agreed![p]EVERYTHING that we do is a risk. The trick in life is deciding were you stand on the subject and being comfortable with you choice and cooking style. There are four schools of though on the food safety subject (from most conservative, to downright stupid):[p]1) Follow the USDA food safety guidelines to the letter. Even this is not completely safe (nothing ever is), but you can rest assured that your family and friends will always be almost completely safe from food poisoning. The downside to this method is that you will not always be considered the best of a Chef (unless your family likes dried, slightly overcooked food).[p]2) Generally follow the USDA food safety guidelines but realize that SOME of the information is conservatively biased for your own protection. Understand were the bias occurs. Study, practice, and learn the art of cooking and BBQ-ing until you are a master Chef (at least in the eyes of your loving family). Know and understand what you are doing and try not to hurt anyone in the process.[p]3) Try to follow the food safety guidelines, but never really think about it and what you are doing when it comes to safe food handling. Dogmatically repeat things about food safety that you hear on internet forums, but never give it a any serious thought. Refuse to intelligently discuss food safety with other cooks. Know enough to be dangerous. Ignorance is bliss.[p]4) Ignore everything and go about you food handling practices in complete stupidity (my granddaddy eat raw bacon for breakfast every day and he lived to be 92. At least until lung cancer got him from smoking 2 packs a day) .[p]It is a very personal decision. I vote for Number 2. How about you?

  • BBbrewBBbrew Posts: 33
    Jim Minion,[p]You points are well taken. Commercial coking and backyard cooking are two entirely different animals. I would never stray (very far) from position number 1 in a commericial setting. Besides there are specific laws that govern food safety. I dont want to be fugative Chef.[p][p]More food for thought:[p]There really is no argument in the butt case that started this whole discussion (the one that was deleted earier this week). [p]If somebody comes to an internet forum asking such a question as whether their butt is safe to eat after the fire in his Egg went out, that person is probably a category 3 or 4. While attempting to answer such a question, you firmly represent yourself as residing in category 1 or 2. IF you choose to present this position, it is your duty and responsibility as a skilled and knowledgeable cook to offer conservative advice (just as the USDA does in their recommendations to the US public). This happens by default and really has nothing to do with the facts that were presented in the original post by the person asking the question about butt safety. You were not there and you did not observe the entire preparation and cooking process. The person asking the question cannot supply all of the information that you need to make a serious judgment over the internet. Therefore there is no argument. If you actually were there to observe the entire preparation and cooking process, then you might be in a position to use some of your advance skill and knowledge and offer some real advice based on your direct experience. This advice might very well be counter to conventional food safety guidlines.[p]
  • BBbrewBBbrew Posts: 33
    Wise One,[p]All I know is I now where I stand on the issue and I am very comfortable with my position. I have no intentions of starting any arguments or trying to convince anybody to follow my way of thinking. I am just trying to get people to pay attention, get the facts, and think for themselves. [p]I hope I havent offended anyone.[p]Cheers to Juggy for bringing the subject up again and allowing me an opportunity to get my 2 cents in (OK - 98 cents, if you count inflation and all that boring, non-egg related stuff that that I wrote.)[p]Beers to everyone and keep the Q coming! Spring is on it's way![p]BBbrew
  • The Naked WhizThe Naked Whiz Posts: 7,780
    Actually, the reason that it was always recommended to cook pork to a temperature of 180 degrees was not bacteria, but rather trichinosis, a parasitic worm. According to what I've read trichinosis is much less of a threat now than it used to be, and the New York Department of Health currently recommends cooking pork to a temperature of 150 degrees. In as much as beef doesn't usually contain the trichinosis parasite, it never had to be cooked to such high temperatures, meaning that rare/medium rare steaks are safe to eat as long as the meat has been handled properly prior to cooking. [p]TNW[p]TNW

    The Naked Whiz
  • djm5x9djm5x9 Posts: 1,342
    Here is another reference to pork and trichinosis. I like the last two lines of this write-up.

    [ul][li]Pork and Trichinosis[/ul]
  • BBbrew, I admit the most USDA guidelines are on the conservative side and they are for the reason you stated, our government considers most of the general population to be idiots. Perhaps this might be because so many people have proven their belief to be correct. :-)[p]One thing to consider is that most people that use a thermometer don't think of calibrating it on a regular basis. I would be willing to bet that most people that grill on a regular basis don't even USE a thermometer. This could be one reason why USDA lists these temperatures are listed below on the high end.[p]I have cut and pasted what is listed between the lines from the USDA's page concerning BBQ safety and some of these temperatures are not quite as high as what you are quoting in your post.
    ____________________________________________________________[p]COOK THOUROUGLY[p]Cook food to a safe internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe internal temperature. Whole poultry should reach 180 °F; breasts, 170 °F. Hamburgers made of ground beef should reach 160 °F; ground poultry, 165 °F. Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts and chops can be cooked to 145 °F. All cuts of pork should reach 160 °F.[p]NEVER partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.[p]____________________________________________________________[p]Now since you understand government lingo, you will notice they use the word "should" and "can." As we both know, there is a difference. The word "should" is interpreted as a requirement and the word "can" is a recommendation. [p]For the most part, I do follow the guidelines listed above pretty close with the exception of pork loin which I remove at 150F, wrap and rest for 10 minutes before slicing. BUT I make sure I have checked the internal temperature at the center most part of the loin. I have also proven to myself (on numerous occassions) that by the time I am slicing the loin, the internal temperature of the meat has risen another 5-10F, thus bringing it close to 160F.[p]Since I once got food poisoning from BBQed chicken, I follow those temperatures to the letter regarding poultry. I will say that most of the temperatures I am used to seeing for poultry have been 10F lower for the breast. One a side note, I have read several articles from other sources that state the majority of our poultry IS infected with samonella when we buy it so that is another reason I am over cautious when it comes to cooking poultry.[p]I don't eat rare beef anymore so that point with me is moot. But the as to the ground meats, I follow them to the letter.[p]Now this bring us to a point you brought up that I will concede. Within this particular web page, the USDA states that cooking temperatures SHOULD be between 250-300F. The majority of briskets and pork butts that I BBQ are cooked at 225F. But I do not or try not to let my cooking temperature fall below this level especially in the first part of the cooking stage when the meat has not reached past the internal temperature. All of my other cooking involves a cooking temperature higher than this.[p]As you stated, any time the government is giving advice they are taking on a liability. In this litigous society, perhaps we should take that same precaution when we give advice on whether something is safe to eat, especially in a venue such as this where we really don't know exactly how many people are actually reading what we post. We also do not know how well informed the lurkers, which far out number the posters are either. Now you may not feel like you have a legal obligation to be on the conservative side when giving advice as to food safety, but like it or not you do have a moral obligation.[p]The bottom line is this. If we do not educate ourselves by using reliable sources for the information to base our risk taking decisions, we cannot safely and reasonably assume that taking that risk is something we want to chance. [p]May your beers be brewed at home,[p]Juggy

    [ul][li]USDA BBQ Food Safety[/ul]
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