Can you inject cured whole cuts of meat and not worry about 4 hour rule?

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by alblancher, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    A reference was made in another thread to waiting until the outside of a cured, whole muscle reached safe external surface temperature before inserting a thermo or injecting a marinade.

    My question

    "Did curing the whole muscle make the interior of the meat less susceptible to bacterial growth or does it just kill existing bacteria?"  If you penetrate a cured whole muscle do you have to follow the 4 hour rule?
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I think this is a great question!...I can't find an answer...There doesn't seem to be any discussion as to the Anti-Bacterial qualities of Sodium Nitrite after Cooking...

    So in terms of Safety I would go with the OP and Wait before Probing or Injecting or if you choose to inject, get it to 140*F in 4 hours...Kind of one of those Err on the side of Caution things...JJ
  3. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Ok I'm curious, why not insert a probe before 140? and does this only apply to cured meat? I just did a pastrami and inserted a probe as soon as I put it on the smoker. I have always inserted my probe at the time of putting meats on the smoker. and if you don't probe how do you know when it hits 140?
  4. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Last time I checked, the curing process is basically for botulism and has little effect on e coli and salmonella unless accompanied by huge amounts of salt?

    I would wait to probe until an expert comes by to tell me differently?

    Good luck and good smoking.
  5. Well I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the salt in a recipe is as important to the sausage as the  Nitrite, and that one should never go below  1/3  of the salt of what the recipe calls for,

    how this helps the OP I have NO Idea... but it does give shed some light on the bacterial growth part I think
  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There are people that wait to probe ANYTHING before the meat has been in the Smoker or Oven at least 1 hour, Surface Temp 140*F, to eliminate any lingering Bacteria... There is the off chance that there may be some Bacteria on the outside of the meat that can get pushed into the meat by the probe or injection. In the case of a long slow smoked Beef or large Butt, that bacteria can multiply and generate toxins that can cause illness...Most of the time we cook the meat to 190*-210*F and anything you push in is killed. There are however some toxins that are not destroyed by heating and can pose a problem...This is rare because between Washing the meat and soaking in a Salty Brine or applying a Salty Rub, extremely small amounts of bacteria survive, if any...But once again, is it not better to err on the side of caution and wait an hour before you probe...JJ
  7. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Jimmy, Thanks for the answer, I had never heard that before. It makes sense so from now on I will wait before probing.
  8. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    What makes it an interesting question to me is that if properly cured the outside of the meat should be pathogen free, if you use a sterile probe or sterile needle and marinade you should be fine.  Kind of like injecting after the surface of the meat has been properly heated.  There are significant changes in the chemistry of the meat caused by curing but even though those changes may make bacterial growth more difficult I don't think it will prevent their growth.

    Need to do more research!
  9. terry colwell

    terry colwell Smoking Fanatic

    Error on the side of caution is great. And dont think back to years ago when you seen the guys stabbing the heck out of the food the whole time they cooked it with that big meat fork. For years and years people stabbed the meat with "Meat Forks", even using them to take the meat off the plate whem just starting the cook, so they didnt have to touch the meat. I think sometimes we get Hyper Critical of things..[​IMG]
  10. not to mention the meat packers use meat hooks, but always best to be safe than sorry
  11. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

     I imagine the tools used in an inspected meat packing plant are pretty clean and there is a clear sanitation deliniation between the killing area and the packing area. 

    This is more of an academic musing then a serious "change your ways" advice.  Once cured I believe most meats are safe but safe practices are safe practices.  Deciding to use them is each individual's choice.

    On the academic side the question is: Does the meat chemistry change enough to inhibit the growth of bacteria or have the bacteria  been simply killed and introducing new bacteria starts the process over again.
  12. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    along with tenderizing a piece of meat to boot,sure like my chicken fried steak.
  13. you know Al I think I misunderstood your question the first time I read it, are you asking, IF you inject a cure into a whole cut of meat like a loin or a picnic and cure it, since you injected it do you need to follow the 4 hr rule?

    is that it or am I still confused?? LOL
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I think the level or amount of New Bacteria contamination may play a part...From experience...A chunk of ham in a Ziplock has been fine after 3 weeks in the cold back of my refer but a pound of Sliced ham from the grocery store gets slimey in 7-10 days in the drawer...JJ

  15. I found this tid bit of information ;

    Salt inhibits microbial growth by plasmolysis. In other words, water is drawn out of the microbial cell by osmosis due to the higher concentration of salt outside the cell. A cell loses water until it reaches a state first where it cannot grow and cannot survive any longer. The concentration of salt outside of a microorganism needed to inhibit growth by plasmolysis depends on the genus and species of the microorganism. The growth of some bacteria is inhibited by salt concentrations as low as 3%, e.g., Salmonella, whereas other types are able to survive in much higher salt concentrations, e.g., up to 20% salt for Staphylococcus or up to 12% salt for Listeria monocytogenes (Table 5.3.). Fortunately the growth of many undesirable organisms normally found in cured meat and poultry products is inhibited at relatively low concentrations of salt (USDA FSIS 1997a).

    It doesnt mention if it is ok to probe it but it has some good salt vs. bacteria info

    I found it here
  16. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Big Casino

    I am curing a pork loin with a dry cure.  Once cured I will rinse and place in the cold smoke for lets say 4 hours and then into the hot smoke for lets say 3  hours to get to 145 degrees.  If I penetrate the pork loin with a sterile fork or meat thermometer or inject a sterile marinade does the 4 hour rule apply from that point on?

    To me it is an interesting question but then again.....  maybe I have to much idle time on my hands!! 
  17. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Interesting information!
  18. well I have to admit (head down) I am a prober, when I put my canadian bacon in the smoker I put a probe in it so I do not have to disturb it later and lose smoker temps, and wait for it to rebound

  19. I like to imagine that, too ;)

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