4 hour 140*

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by harleysmoker, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. harleysmoker

    harleysmoker Smoking Fanatic

    Can someone explain to me the 4 hour 140* thing and why you shouldn't probe the meat until  after it hits 140*?

    I understand to get the meat temperature up so it don't grow bacteria but I don't understand why inserting the thermometer probe in the meat as soon as it is placed on the smoker is bad. I always put the probe  in at the beginning and if it is a bad idea I will quit doing it.
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    The outside of the meat can harbor bacteria. By pushing a thermo or fork through this layer you are "innoculating" the meat. 
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    You can put the probe in at the beginning, but if you do the internal meat temp must reach 135 in 4 hours. If you don't probe it in the beginning the outside 1/2" has to reach 135 in 4 hours. The new guidelines from the USDA are the danger zone is now 41-135, instead of the old one 40-140. 
  4. harleysmoker

    harleysmoker Smoking Fanatic

    ah ok, thanks for explaining
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Harley, just put your meat in the Smoker and let it go an hour to kill any nasties on the outside...Then probe it and finish the Smoke...JJ
  6. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I put the the therm in when the meat goes in.

    I am quite confident that the temp will reach the proper place in plenty of time in a well heated smoker.

    One less time to open the lid.

    Never had a problem with this.

  7. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use to probe right away but on several occasions I would be sitting there watching my temps and I would know something was off as the temps hadn't moved in a long time (And it wasn't because of a stall) so I would go out and move the probe a bit or re probe the meat and I would find that my actual temps were much higher then what the thermometer was saying. I have never gotten a good explanation on why my thermometer would just sit there until I move the probe a bit but it has happened on numerous occasions with multiple thermometers. If I let the meat go a few hours then probe it then I have never had an issue. Call me crazy but that is my experience.
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ross you are not crazy...The first stick may not always be the best place and I am starting to see more and more crazy stuff happen with big hunks of meat...JJ
  9. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use 40 to 140 not because it is technically exact but because it is easy to remember and does add a little extra margin.  As long as you reach 135 in 4 hours, you can probe whenever you want.

    Ross, I always verify with my instant read stick.  Trusting one thermometer has gotten me in trouble too many times.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Same here Merv, when the therm says it's done I poke it a few places with my Thermapen to make sure, and the numbers are usually all over the place. I just make sure that the lowest one is in the safe zone.
  11. x2 what Al said.  I use my Thermapen for the final readings too...don't be afraid to probe quite a few places.  Gives you a good average.
  12. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always check with another thermometer, but I don't check more then 1 spot guess I need to start checking multiple spots. Thanks for the heads up
  13. Hey Fellas, i also heard if you sear your Butt(hehe) or brisket first that it kills the bacteria that you are worried about plunging into your meat, can anyone confirm or deny this as truth....

    Sorry in a goofy mood today
  14. Searing would kill the surface bacteria no doubt.  You'd just want to make sure you seared completely or at least in the places you'd want to insert a temp probe.  Not really sure it's worth it... but that's my very humble $0.02....

    I would also think that searing would toughen up the outside surface which could inhibit smoke penetration since that high heat would tighten up the muscle mass/surface....I've never seared before smoking but would be interested in what others have to say or if they've tried it.

  15. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Big Casino

    Thats like taking a blow torch and hitting the outside of the meat   As  long as the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch or so is hot enough to kill the bad guys then yes you are ok.  There are charts detailing how long the meat has to stay at a particular temp to be safe.    The hotter it is the shorter the amount of time.  The more humidity in the cooking chamber the shorter the time   remember steam cooks faster then a dry oven.  The numbers we use are best guess and recommended by USDA.   If the sear gets the temp deep enough it is safe.  But I am thinking about the difference between degrees of burn on skin.  Skin can handle a very hot flash for a very short period of time with just surface damage while a prolonged lower temperature will cause more damage.   Has something to do with the amount of moisture in the surface and how long it takes to boil out.    Like licking your fingers to remove a hot light bulb.
  16. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Academically, Al and I agree.

    We are very careful with food safety because we cook at low temps.  Also, we cure meat and cold smoke which is very dangerous for those who do not study.

    The killing of the germs is not a magic temp.  It is actually a matter of temp and time combined. Germs can be killed at lower temps than we state if we hold that temp for extended periods.  I don't recommend getting into the details of that, because some might take it wrong and make somebody sick.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  17. harleysmoker

    harleysmoker Smoking Fanatic

    All good reading, thanks. This reminds me of my grandpa who salt cured a  pig he raised and butchered his self. He had leg quarters on his workbench in the shed. I was about 12 years old in ohio at this time and thought it was wrong to have big pieces of meat laying on a work bench in that shed, its not a cooler. He had it covered in salt and would tend to it daily. 

    I will tell you that was the best damn pork I have ever ate and I asked years later  why he never done it again. The only thing he could say was you can't, something in the grain you feed them ,he couldn't tell me exactly,  but just said you can't.

    Him and my grandma was from West Virginia and canned everything, I really miss them, walking into their cellar was like a kid in a candy store.
  18. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    As Salt said Searing is more trouble than it's worth and would definitely inhibit smoke penetration...Realistically what is an hour wait going to cost you? None of us have that kind of patience to set it and forget it, we all Peek!...Like little kids, too much excited anticipation!!!...JJ
  19. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yea some of the old techniques are fascinating.  Salt curing pork is as much an art and tradition as it is a technique.  Many people still salt cure pork but we have decided not to recommend that procedure on this forum.  The majority of our members are unfamiliar with proper food preparation and the last thing we want to do is offer advice that can get someone sick.

    Properly salt curing pork requires a good deal of skill and experience.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  20. Casino:  biggest problem I see with that method, is that even if it is seared perfectly, etc--your probe would have to be sterile as well...too many variables for my comfort!  :)

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