Smoked bacon frozen, then thawed, then re freeze??

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by expat smoker, Jul 23, 2013.

  1. expat smoker

    expat smoker Smoke Blower

    I occasionally send a few kilos to friends in a town that is a 6 hr drive and altho I send it in a cooler, frozen when it leaves my house but it does thaw after 6 hr trip.  Can it be refrozen safely??

    This is meat that has been dry cured properly and smoked to an internal temp of 170f @ 225f and then after cooling enough I pack it in vaccume bags following all the sanitary rules.

    Thanks in advance...........
  2. I see no problem with refreezing it.

  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jack, morning.....  

    Was it packed in ice to keep it below 40 deg F ???   re freezing can cause crystals to form and cut the meat cells causing excess dryness when reheating...  also, vac packed meats above 40 deg F can grow botulism... I know cure #1 is supposed to prevent that, but I don't know if it's a  100% guarantee no botulism will form... or any other pathogens for that matter......  

    A better idea may be to smoke, refer the bacon and ice down and deliver it cold....   depends on your time constraints....   or pack in dry ice to maintain a frozen state.... if you have access to dry ice....   

    We need someone more knowledgeable than me, to weigh in on this....  I always try to learn toward being really safe.... you don't get too many opportunities to screw up food safety...

  4. As long as the bacon stays at safe temperatures, there's no issue refreezing it from a safety standpoint.
    Quality may suffer, but if you pack it with some frozen bottles of water or the like in a good cooler, it shouldn't thaw much, if at all.

  5. expat smoker

    expat smoker Smoke Blower

    Martin, thanks for your input.................'safe temps' being below 35f??  It does get hot here in Thailand and altho we always take a very efficient cooler with ice to the market for shopping, it melts fast especially with it in the back of the pick up truck.  Ambient temps now are around 85f, but in the summer it can get up to 100f.

  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Curing, cooking, packaging and freezing the Bacon as you describe can only be contaminated by Botulism causing spores if you are packaging the bacon up out doors and in a Dust Storm or if you work in your garden or come in contact with animal feces and start packaging the Bacon without washing your hands. The Spores are primarily found in soil and on vegetables or the digestive tract of grazing animals. There is a risk of cross-contamination but that would require dirty hands, work surface or other neglect of general sanitation. There is a general concern over Botulism Poisoning because it is so debilitating or deadly but infection is very rare compared to bacterial food contamination from bugs like Staph and Salmonella. Even with defrosting there is little to worry about in this example. As Dave has pointed out there is more concern with the texture of the lean meat in the bacon but your smoke/cooking to an IT of 170*F would have reduced the meats moisture content to the point that there would not be a great deal of water to form ice crystals any way so there should be very little texture quality impact as well...JJ
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
    supercenterchef likes this.
  7. It's wise to assume that all potential botulinum spore harboring foods are contaminated with botulinum spores.
    Risky assumptions lead to potentially dangerous decisions.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  8. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If this is for a future trip and not one you just made I would suggest this.....

    A good cooler, dry ice, and a towel to put between the dry ice and the frozen food. 

    Pre-chill the cooler. You can use regular ice and water to pre-chill. Make sure you use a hard sided one not one of those soft sided - one rated for keeping ice 5 days would be great.  Put the frozen & vacuum packed food in the bottom of the cooler, lay at a terry cloth towel over the food, then put the dry ice flat sheets or chunks on top and close it up.  It should remain frozen the entire trip.  The towel will keep the dry ice from being in direct contact with the food as it's uber cold.  Reason for dry ice on top is cold air falls as it's more dense than any air that is warmer inside the cooler.  Once equilibrium temps are reached it's all like a deep freeze.

    Just be careful when handling dry ice.  Use thick gloves as it will "burn" your skin (actually it's more like instant frost bite but the damage can be quick and permanent.)  Welders gloves like you would use with a smoker are perfect.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Maybe I am missing something. This is properly cured Bacon we are talking about or is your  assumption that it may not have been properly cured in the first place eliminating any Clostridium Botulinum Spores that may have been there from the beginning? If that is true would you also not recommend Nepas send his Dry Cured Sausage and Jerky to his Son and the troops in Afghanistan? Should we not eat Benton's Country Ham or Imported Prosciutto de Parma that has spent a year or more at Spring, Summer and early Fall temps? All these items are " potential botulinum spore harboring foods " and both types of Ham's have never been exposed to any Nitrate or Nitrite...I am not looking for an argument. I am just trying to understand the basis of your statement. Thanks Martin...JJ
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  10. Nitrite was not mentioned initially, some dry cure with just salt.
    If potential botulinum spore harboring food is packed in vacuum bags there are potential risks.

    If it's not a high-risk food and/or preventive measures have been taken, then there's little to worry about as far as botulinum spores go.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  11. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Oh ok...If he was more specific about how or with what he Dry Cured the bacon with, you would be more comfortable with the Vac Pac shipping. Makes sense. Thanks...[​IMG]...JJ
  12. expat smoker

    expat smoker Smoke Blower

    Thanks for all the feedback guys.  Mostly reassuring and yes, I did my cure according to DD cure calculator [with cure#1] and always observe sanitary conditions, washing my hands several times during any handling of the meat and/or utensils. Dry Ice may be a little hard to find here in Thailand, but it's only a 5 hr trip and I've held frozen store bought foods in my cooler for at least that long at times in the past.  Placing the frozen products on the bottom helps. 

    On the side, I've always used 170f as my internal temp for pork because that was written on my meat thermometer, but have read elsewhere on this forum that some use 140f............just curious 
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jack, morning.....    the USDA or whoever they are, recently changed the Internal Temp, to finish pork at, at 140ish.....  

    I going out on a limb here...  I think the study was done on US raised pork and the conditions the animals were raised in.... I'm almost positive that does not hold true for wild pigs....   and almost positive it's not true for pigs raised in other countries......  

    Sanitary conditions, types of feed etc. all play a major role in meat for human consumption....    parasites available to attack the animal etc...

    So, the 170 degree temp is probably a good temp for a final cooking temp....  If you eat your bacon without further cooking, that is a good temp to take it to... hell, we take pork butt to 205 to eat pulled pork... 190 ish for sliced.....  I like my bacon crisp so it's probably cooked to an IT of 250, or even higher...  I have no idea what it's temp is or how to take the temp on a 1/8" slice of meat....  I know the pan is 350 or so when I cook it so it may even be 350 deg IT....   I cook bacon by "EYE"....  not scientific but good enough for me.......

  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Dave makes a great point! If there is any chance the the pork you are getting in Thailand was fed untreated Garbage, food scraps that have not been cooked, the chance of Trichinae go up drastically. Here is the latest cooking temps to kill these nasty parasites directly from the USDA. An IT of 170*F is certainly not necessary but 160*F should still yield a juicy result...JJ

    Cooking  - Commercial preparation of pork products by cooking requires that meat be heated to internal temperatures which have been shown to inactivate trichinae. For example, Trichinella spiralis  is killed in 47 minutes at 52°  C (125.6°  F), in 6 minutes at 55°  C (131°  F), and in < 1 minute at

    60°  C (140°  F). It should be noted that these times and temperatures apply only when the product reaches and maintains temperatures evenly distributed throughout the meat. Alternative methods of heating, particularly the use of microwaves, have been shown to give different results, with parasites not completely inactivated when product was heated to reach a prescribed end-point temperature. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for processed pork products reflects experimental data, and requires pork to be cooked for 2 hours at 52.2°  C (126°  F), for 15 minutes at 55.6°  C (132°  F), and for 1 minute at 60°  C (140°F).

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that consumers of fresh pork cook the product to an internal temperature of 71°  C or 160°  F. Although this is considerably higher than temperatures at which trichinae are killed (about 55°  C or 131°  F), it allows for different methods of cooking which do not always result in even distribution of temperature throughout the meat. It should be noted that heating to 77°  C (171°  F) or 82°  C (180°  F) was not completely effective when cooking was performed using microwaves.
  15. Always assume that pork may be infected and treat it as such no matter what the hogs were fed.
    Unless you can ensure that the pigs will not come into contact with rats at any time during their life, which is next to impossible, there's no way to guarantee that they won't become infected.
    Rats are carriers and pigs will most certainly munch on a rat if given the chance.


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