40-140 ?

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by gableguy, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. So I'm cooking two 10 lb butts. The butts are still partially frozen in the center, been in the fridge since Sunday. I inserted a probe in the butt I injected to monitor the meat temps. No probe in the 2nd butt because I didn't inject it. The meat has been on for an hour and the internal temp of the one butt is 36 deg, started at 32 deg, does the 40-140 4 hour rule apply/ start after the meat reaches 40 deg? I use maverick probes and I checked the probes in boiling water before starting. My cooking temp is ranging 240-290 (UDS). Any help would be appreciated.
  2. elohel

    elohel Smoke Blower

    I would assume so since pathogenic bacteria generally can't grow at low temps like that
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    10lb...I'll assume bone-in..if so, the one not injected doesn't need much worry, just give it at least 225* smoke chamber temps. 240-290* will definitely get you there. The 40-140*/4-hr guideline for non-intact whole muscle meat has changed to 41-135*/4-hrs.

    Basically, the way I interpret the guideline, is that the clock starts once it's over 40*, and it sounds like you've kept it far below the 40* mark up until it landed in the smoker.

  4. I was thinking that it wouldn't start untill it reached 140 but just wanted some reassurance. Yes they are bone in.
  5. jc1947

    jc1947 Smoking Fanatic

    What about the fact that the outside is a different temp than where the probe is? IMHO I would think that it should be from the time the surface temp reaches 40 degrees.

  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's a very valid concern, JC.

    At the typical hot smoking chamber temps for fresh meats of 225* and above, the meat's surface will be pasturized before the internal temp rises much at all. With non-intact meats, any process (deboning, injecting, stuffing with garlic, etc, mascerating/tenderizing) that could have introduced harmful bacteria into the meat is the real risk. While the surface is still the most likely place to find these harmful bacteria, they will be heated to temperatures above what they can survive before they can multiply and release enough waste toxins to be harmful for human consumption.

    The center of the mass of the meat is where the internal temp and time guideline becomes the most critical, as the center mass will take the longest to pass through the danger-zone temp/time range (41-135*/4-hrs). If you can meet the guideline with center mass temp/time, the rest will obviously take less time, so measurements between the center mass and surface would not be necessary. It's all about internal temps with non-intact fresh meats once they hit the cooking chamber.

    Hope that bridges any gaps and clarifies things abit better for you. Bbally explained alot of this in the low and slow discussion in the food safety forum awhile back...HERE's the link to that thread. Note: in this thread, you will see mention of the temp/time guideline of 40-140*, which was updated in 2009 to 41-135*...this thread is from 2008.

    Last edited: Dec 2, 2011
  7. austinl

    austinl Smoking Fanatic

    If you follow all other safe handling guidelines you really don't have to worry about this 140 in 4 hogwash (except maybe in your case where the meat is partially frozen :)  ).  Read the following page from the USDA; it does not say anything about this "rule" that pops up on BBQ forums but it does have a good summary of BBQ food safety.

  8. austinl

    austinl Smoking Fanatic

    To further elaborate on this; I believe there is a certain amount of common sense that should go into probing.  If you know something you are cooking is going to take many hours to cook, what reason would you have to probe the meat after an hour and possibly introduce new bacteria into the meat? 
  9. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    AustinL  you are 100% correct.  You do not have to worry about the 40 to 140 rule when cooking whole muscle meat.  If the meat is injected or pierced the danger zone is a big concern.   The USDA link you posted said not to cook frozen meat because it will linger in the danger zone to long.  Which is basically the answer to the OP's question


    The meat should have been properly defrosted before putting it in the smoker.  You can safely insert a clean thermometer (wiped with alcohol) or inject boiled, sterilized marinades after the surface temp of the whole muscle has reached 140 degrees.  Normally just a couple of hours after the meat has been in the hot smoker.
  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I let the outside of whole muscle meat come above 140 before I probe if it is going to take longer than 4 hours to cook.  Beyond that, if it is an intact muscle, not much to worry about at hot smoking temps.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  11. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    A Guideline like 40-140 in 4...aka the Rule (less letters than Guideline) is, Easy to remember, Provides a margin of Error, Has been gleaned from information provided by Multiple sources, including but not limited to, Professional Food service organizations, The American Culinary Federation, The ServSafe program, the USDA and Food Service Professionals with Years of Experience... Is, " 40 to 140*F in 4 " written down in any Government Food Service Law Manual, or Word for Word on any fore mentioned Website or Charter?...NO...But it Has been adopted by This Site and others to protect it's members!...

    If you have a background in Food Safety and can provide Any information that you can Safely... cook any Meat, at any Temperature, for any length of Time, as long as you, " follow all other safe handling guidelines "...I would be happy to delete all previous reference to the 40 to140 in 4 rule and give you credit for the New Rule...Until then, "Hogwash" is a strong word to use...JJ
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  12. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The reference to 140 in 4 rule is what is accepted as a safety guidline for our members and should be applied to any non virgin cut of meat cooking at smoking temps for a long period of time.  The inexperienced cook should follow this rule.  Calling it "hogwash" on this site is unexceptable and potentially dangerous for those just starting out.  I would like to see this edited by the author.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2011
  13. smokinal

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

    Well said Rick & JJ!
  14. jc1947

    jc1947 Smoking Fanatic

       Thank you for the link. Here is a quote from it "Now if you inject it, you have changed the "intact nature" of the meat and should treat it as ground meat or forced meat. This means the inside temp of the meat must pass through 140 within four hours. Usually requiring a temp of at least 275 F or better." which in this case cableguy said "I inserted a probe in the butt I injected to monitor the meat temps. No probe in the 2ND butt because I didn't inject it." So if he injected and probed the butt  wouldn't that mean it was subject to the 4 hour 140 rule? Or am I still not getting the point?

       From http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Smoking_Meat_and_Poultry/index.asp comes this quote "Completely thaw meat or poultry before smoking. Because smoking uses low temperatures to cook food, the meat will take too long to thaw in the smoker, allowing it to linger in the "Danger Zone" (temperatures between 40 and 140 °F) where harmful bacteria can multiply. Defrosted meat also cooks more evenly.

       Any help would be appreciated as I am confused.

  15. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    It may seem like we are piling on a bit but that is not our intention.  I am assuming from your post you are an experienced smoker.  We at SMF always need to take into consideration many newbies without enough knowledge to know how and when lurk here.  We are always careful with that in mind.  Do not take the criticism personally, but the last thing anyone wants is a novice either misled or over zealous making themselves or their family sick.     
  16. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    while the 40-140 rule has moved on it's #'s it is far from hogwash and needs to be observed in most cases. "40-140 in 4" is easy to remenber for most so those are the temps that "I" advocate and if you observe this range you WILL be safe. remember that whole intact muscle is not the only thing people are cooking here.........
  17. austinl

    austinl Smoking Fanatic

    Hey don't worry, no offense taken.  Here's my position on the matter; if this 140 in 4 is a good rule-of-thumb that's fine.  It just seems like everytime someone writes anything about cooking times this gets brought up as some kind of black and white rule and my objection is that I couldn't find any credible information relating to it in this context, that is why I started questioning it.  Its just about the semantics really, but I've had my time in the spotlight with this so I'll drop it.  I apologize for my use of the word 'hogwash'; that was bit harsh.  Anyway that's about all I have to say on the matter, happy smoking.
  18. shooterrick

    shooterrick Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for the input Austin.  If you look closely you usually see the rule mentioned primarily with newbies with few posts.  We are just trying to make sure they are safety aware.  Good smokes to ya. 
  19. frosty

    frosty Master of the Pit

    I agree with ShooterRick, we don't wanna forget about safety, and ge back to just enjoyin SMOKIN!  The newbies can

    handle their own preferences.[​IMG]
  20. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes, the injected butt is subject to the guideline of 40-140/4-hrs. In fact, if all you did was insert a probe too early, it should be treated the same way. That's why we don't like to probe right away when the meat goes in, unless we already have tampered with the intact nature of the meat...then, it really doesn't matter when you probe. I guess the easy way to rememeber is: if you stick it, follow the the rule.


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