Bacterial Food Poisoning... Very informative short bulletin... Save it for future reference....

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by daveomak, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  2. rgacat

    rgacat Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Very informative article thanks Dave

    Ronnie g.
  3. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great article Dave - Thanks

    It needs something like as a reminder for everyone who prepares food at relatively low temperatures for long periods. Most will be fine as the standard smoking temperatures are generally safe however it is important to realise the importance of minimising the time that food is kept within the bacteria danger zone before and after cooking. Temperature and bacteria awareness is always important when preparing any foods but especially important when air drying meats or cold smoking things like minced meat and chicken.

    What usually happens when people ingest sufficient bacteria is that they feel rough or get a bad gas attack - sometimes a day or so later - and this is often not put down to the food but to the beer that they have drunk or even to a mild attack of flu... For susceptible folks though this can be a life threatening problem.

    When producing cold smoked air dried meat especially this is can be a real risk if the correct precautions are not taken - also with non-acidic canned foods.

    From experience, some people on here can be a little dismissive of catering standard food hygiene but in my opinion you can never be too careful - especially when cooking for others.

    Take the appropriate precautions and everyone can have the confidence that what they produce is safe.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I was surprised at the number of "things" that can grow at refrigerator temperatures and those that have spores that survive cooking heat treatment....

    Stuff I never heard before..... or forgot......

  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes, some are not aware that boiling (100 C, 212 F at sea level) will not kill some of the really nasty spores. Boiling at altitude will kill even less - as water will boil at a lower temperature. Luckily this is not usually a problem if the food is eaten quickly however - if it is subsequently stored for an extended time, or stored anaerobically in the right conditions for a period of time - it can become very toxic. Vac packed food that is not frozen, pressure canned food that has not reached the required temperature for long enough and air dried products that have not been appropriately cured can all pose a serious risk to health.

    Unfortunately it is like playing Russian roulette - If you are someone who does not take the basic precautions you may be perfectly OK 99 times out of 100 but it is the 100th time that will kill you - or someone you love! 

    I am sorry if that was a little too morbid for the forum...
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014
  6. thatcho

    thatcho Meat Mopper

    wow i thought getting temps high enough i would be safe. Luckily when preparing anything i go cleaning crazy in the kitchen..LOL. Wife loves it. Just kind of freaky how tough these bacteria are.
  7. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Don't get too worried Thatcho. The bacteria themselves are easy enough to kill. Providing you get the centre of most uncut meats above 140F (60C), because most of the bacteria on a slab of meat are on the surface (which will usually have reached at a higher temperature than the centre) then you will be fine. Salmonella, which is usually found on the surface of foods is killed at 160F (71C) and so long as the surface of the meat has reached that temperature for a period of time then there is not a problem.

    With minced meat though (burgers and sausages etc.) the act of mincing actually means whatever was on the meat surface is now liberally distributed throughout the whole of the food. This is why it is important to get the centre of the food containing chopped or minced meat also up to 160F (71C) to ensure that all of the bacteria are killed.

    Bacteria spores though are harder to kill and one that is all around us but usually does us little harm in its dormant state is Clostridium Botulinum. However when it finds itself in a warm place that is not acidic with low oxygen levels (e.g. medium pH containers of canned or vac packed food at room temperature) then it starts to produce a very unpleasant toxin that causes botulism in humans. So long as we take the sensible precautions it is not usually a problem to us. In order to minimise risk eat cooked food soon after cooking or chill and freeze it. Also avoid storing it in a low oxygen environment at room temperature. The spores do not like an acid environment so things like pickles, sauces high in acidic tomatoes and BBQ sauces that usually contain vinegar are relatively safe. If you want to kill the spores completely then you need to heat them up to 250F (121C) for 3 minutes or  240F (115C) for more than 20 minutes. In order to get to 240F you would need a pressure canner - which are easily purchased online.

    They can also be controlled chemically and this is the method used in most curing salts

    Smoking a pork shoulder or brisket for several hours and then consuming within a few days (if it lasts that long) should not cause you any problems.
  8. Bit of a qualifier here:  I was a 91T in the U.S. Army stationed in Cairo Egypt (Naval Medical Research Unit #3 - NAMRU3) doing medical research.

    The vast majority of bacteria that we're typically afflicted by are those we're all familiar with (Staph, Salmonella, Clostridium, Campy, E.Coli, Listeria) and most of these are fairly easy to detect by smell, with the exception of Clostridium (eg: Botulism).  Also, it's not the bacteria itself you always have to worry about.  Often, you can kill the bacteria entirely, but the toxins produced by said bacteria (very specifically in the case of Clostridium) continue to be every bit as deadly no matter what the temperature you cooked it at.  (Even thoroughly cooked meat that has been rotted by staph can be deadly).

    Botulism (a type of Clostridium) is the one beast that is the worst of them all since its spores are literally EVERYWHERE (fortunately for us, it prefers a low oxygen environment).  Every day, you're breathing in Botulin spores whether you like it or not.  The vast majority of people just don't have the body PH/O2 balance for them to grow so they're not a problem.  (As a side note, ignore EVERY warning given to you about Honey being a botulin spore harbor, I can provide more info on that if interested.)  

    When it comes to food, though, particularly those in canned anaerobic conditions, this is where Botulism becomes a problem.

    There is one thing all dangerous bacteria have in common (Botulin included):  Off gassing.  Get yourself a vacuum sealer and seal everything up, and you have a pretty solid indicator of bacterial growth that works past smell alone.  (For this reason, even though I sterilize our chicken stock with a canner, if the lid pops off too easily, no matter how good it smells it goes down the drain).  If you've vacuumed sealed your meats, and there's air introduced, sure, it could be a pin hole in the bag, but is it worth the risk?  

    Now, since we're on a smoker forum, I'll let you know that I've been doing some very interesting experiments with long-term storage of smoked meats.  Pretty much all bacteria dies within a few hours at 105 degrees (thus the reason we get fevers), within minutes at 140, and within seconds at 160.  Smoking for extended periods of time literally sterilizes the meat.  (Again, bear in mind, this does not include spores which don't start to die until the 240-ish mark - but these your body is (are?) quite capable of handling.)  

    Long and the short of it is: if you're immunosuppressed to the point that botulin spores are a risk, you'd already be living in a bubble.  BUT, if you're planning on storing your post-smoked foods for any length of time (eg: more than a day), then either A.) Can them so you can cook them at high temps long enough to kill the spores and easily detect any off-gassing, or B.) Vacuum seal them and toss anything that has air in it where it shouldn't.  Botulin toxin is no joke.  Unless you're going for some home-grown botox, which I would not particularly recommend.  The "stroke" look isn't "in" these days.

    Fun math fact:  A single bacteria reproduces approximately once every 20 minutes.  Thus if you have a single bacteria on your food (and the food is left in ideal growing conditions - roughly the temperature of the human body), you'll have 2 in 20 minutes, 4 in 40, and 8 in 60.  In 12 hours, there will be 68,719,476,736 individual bacteria on the food.  The more you know.  *rainbow*

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  9. Really wish I could edit posts... :(

    In other news, you have remarkably little to worry about if the CENTER of the cut of meat doesn't hit temperature for an extended period of time.  DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU GET IT, Generally speaking, if the center of the meat had these bacteria in it, the critter would've been dead before butchering.  BUT, the caveat here is if you're not getting your meats from a trusted local butcher, you can't really be sure that they didn't stab some infected needle into the meat to add water/salt/flavorings to the inside of it to "make it better" for you, and potentially introduce said bacteria.

    Edit:  K, I'm a special kind of stupid.  The obvious "edit" button allows me to edit... Is there a "delete" button?
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Javin. Posted in a different group but relevant to your post too I think.
  11. Yes, what Wade says.  

    And let's not forget that thermometer probe as a potential vector.  No matter how clean it is, you're pressing bacteria from the surface deep into the meat.

    In the vast majority of cases, it's a non-issue, as you'll get stabby just before putting the meat into the smoker, and the internal temperature will hit that 105 mark when the bacteria quit growing and start dying.  However, if you stick your thermometer in, say, chicken, then for some reason decide to leave that at room temperature for 6 hours before sticking in the smoker, you do significantly increase the chance of giving your more sensitive guests Montezuma's Revenge.

    Here's a chart we should all commit to memory.  This also explains why smoking (extended periods at lower temperature) actually makes it much SAFER to eat foods at these lower temperatures (eg: The fact that I only cook my chicken into the mid 140's):

    This is because once my chicken's internal temperature hits 145, it'll be there (or higher) for half an hour or more, making it every bit as undesirable for bacteria as having sat at the FDA recommended 165 for just a few seconds.  Keep in mind that bacteria's lifespan is a matter of heat over time, not just heat itself.  Bacteria doesn't multiply at 164 degrees then implode at 165.  You want to get your meat's internal temperature above 105 fairly quickly, but from there out, you can take your time getting it to whatever target temperature you're looking for.  These FDA recommended interior temperatures are there to get people who aren't willing to do the research well into that safety zone with a minimal amount of information and a microwave while keeping the government's feet well out of the fire.  

    When you start reading about people cooking beef and pork into the 180's though, we're no longer worried about bacteria at all, but rather are doing this to reach the temperatures that the collagen turns to gelatin at a cellular level, making the meat more tender.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bottom left of the post "box" there is a pencil.... click on it and edit away......


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