5.5 hrs to get to 140, am I in trouble?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by reeko, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. So,
    Had 2 Butts (dual pack) one was 6.7 lbs, the other 4.6.
    I pre-heated my MES to 250 with a drip pan half full of water on the bottom shelf.
    Then had the 6.7lb butt on the next shelf up, followed by the 4.6 on the next.

    Anyway, I have read all the stuff about you are safe as long as you don't puncture the meat with a probe. But, it was early and I was not awake so I put in probes in each.

    Anyway, the small one got to 140 in about 3.5 hrs, but the larger one took 5.5 hrs to hit 140. (Wonder if it was because it was directly above the water pan?)

    Should I be concerned?
  2. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Did you try probing different areas?

    Nothing to do with the water pan.
  3. phil brown

    phil brown Fire Starter

    By the numbers, yeah, it's a problem. You need to get to 140°F within 4 hours. Rather than immediately tossing it, let's investigate first.

    The first thing I'd do is get out an instant-read thermo and recheck, maybe from a new location. Mistakes can be made, and I prefer to measure twice and cut once, so to speak.

    Possibly just as important as the internal temperature is how it got there. Did the meat seem to plateau at some point, or just rise very slowly? Perhaps more importantly, when did you insert the probe? If you didn't put it in until ~2 hours in, you're probably okay as far as surface bacteria.

    If it were me, I'd finish it in the oven, up to 200-205°F, and then be my own guinea pig. The pork would go in the fridge for 24 hours - or until I was certain that I wasn't sick - before being served to anyone else.

    To be honest, this is a breech of everything I was taught about food safety, but I have a strong immune system and a voracious appetite for meat... so I take chances sometimes. You have to decide whether or not it's a chance you want to take. Remember, you've still got 4.6 lbs.

    Edit: I see you did put the probe in at the start. That's one factor too many against it, in my book. Turn it into compost, if you can. Otherwise, it's landfill.
  4. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm not sure anything is wrong:

    6.7 x 1.5 hrs = 10.05 hrs
    4.6 x 1.5 hrs = 6.9 or 7.0 hrs

    It sounds like right on schedule to me.

    Do you have a probe in the cabinet to monitor what the actual cook temp is?

    Since you put the probes in you will have to add another 30+ minutes.

    Try a hard reset:

    Cycle the MES off with the off/on switch on the controller, then unplug electrical cord, count to 10. Replug elect. cord in and cycle on the MES with the on/off. Reset your desired cooking temps and time.

    Rem. the MES isn't like your microwave, where you put a bag of popcorn in hit popcorn and it cooks the popcorn perfect every time. There are variables and if all things are working correctly those variables will have some effect on cook times.

    Its good you have the probes in as now you know exactly what is happening with the meat.

    Keep us posted..
  5. bman62526

    bman62526 Smoking Fanatic

    I agree with both of the above.

    That said - anyone here that has read my posts on this subject knows, I don't get to scared off by missing on this 40-140 rule by a little bit.

    Do like suggested and check temps at other areas in the meat.

    and the only other thing I would add is this. Although RonP is right on by saying that the water pan wouldn't be the reason for one stalling a little longer, I interpreted your statement there in a different way...

    IF you got your smoker up to temp and then put in the water pan, and maybe it wasn't boiling hot water when you put the pan in the smoker, then the temp of the smoker would have dropped a bit while heating up your water - thus, you were maybe smoking at a lower temp than what you thought for the first hour or so...might explain why you didn't get above 140 with the butt nearest the pan.

    If that's not the case, and your temp gauges are all accurate and you were for sure up to temp when you started smoking, then it comes down to taking a risk with getting sick - but I don't think you were off by enough to warrant that.

    If I was talking about a restaurant here, you'd better toss it rather than take a 10% chance on sickness...that might kill business! But for me personally, I've never been sick by missing the 40-140 rule by a little bit (30-60 minutes) -- ever. And,...I eat a lot :) It's your call.
  6. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What temp did it reach in 4 hours? Approximately or actual?
  7. phil brown

    phil brown Fire Starter

    Like Bman, I've never gotten sick from meat that was "a little bit" off. In fact, I've never gotten sick from anything I actually cooked. But there's always a first time. My main concern was never whether or not I'd be converted to porcelain worship, but what might happen to anyone else who partakes. My pulled pork has traveled over 200 miles before; I have the potential to poison plenty of people if I screw up (say that five times fast).

    As long as you take that pork the rest of the way (or even hold it at 140 for another hour or so), you'll take care of the most common pathogens. The only serious concern I'd have is botulism. Botulinum toxin has an LD50 (median lethal dose) of 0.000001 mg/kg; it's the most toxic substance known to man. The chance is very small, but you're betting the farm.

  8. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Goin strictly by the book an if all the probes er readin right, it's garbage. Now if ya eat it will ya get sick? Don't know. Now from someone what has had a real serious case a food poisnin (time in the hospital what I don't remember much about) I play on the safe side cause I never care ta repeat that again.

    Like bbally, at 4 hours what temp was that butt?

    One additional down side is insertin the probe right at the beginin, which it sounds like ya know so won't go over all that.

    So, straddilin the fence I guess it's up ta you, if ya wanna take a chance er not. Ya very well might not get sick, but then again, if everthing is just right ya could.

    It's gonna boil down ta a personal choice I'm afraid.
  9. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't toss it yet. Need to know that temp at four hours.
  10. Sorry, had to run out (the Butts were wrapped and in the oven.
    Anyway, at 4 hours it was at 130 if I recall. It just took another 1.5 hrs to get to 140.

    Also, this one has a big bone in it and I was having problems avoiding it.
    Would being close to a bone tend to read high or low? I am getting some fairly different readings on this butt. But I assumed that the lowest reading was probably the correct one.


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