Botsulism: Just cursious about the safety always preached.

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by fpmich, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One thing to discern is that Cured meat does not fall into the 40° to 140° in 4 hours category, as the curing process greatly reduces that danger.  Just like cold smoking for many hours reduces the danger because of the nitrite in wood smoke on fresh pork.  And/or a combination of both.  I personally recommend achieving a finished internal temp of 146° or higher, as I certainly don't trust my sons or their loved ones to cook stuff thoroughly, lol!  If I give it to them fully cooked, there is less chance of them messing it up.  Jerky is normally has some curing salt in it and can go past those rules, and thin enough to easily cook and dry.

    Thank you Wade, for your remarks on Frank's asking; we all learn and need refresher reminders.
  2. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Have not read all of the posts prior to mine, I do apologize for that. But I see this thread as a good oppurtunity to "say my piece". I had a rather frustrating conversation, for me at least, with another member a while back....was about controlling the temperature of my BGE. Have seen more times than I can count that "you control the temperture with the intake alone". Have been told that you need to leave the exhaust wide open to prevent "stale smoke"....whatever that is. Have also been told, or at least it was impied, that this stale smoke MAY lead to the big "B". I created an account on several Egg forums just to research this. The unilaterial way to control temperature of an Egg, according to the pages of comments I read on the Egg forums, is with both the intake AND exhaust. So does this mean all of these folks are putting themselves at increased risk of contracting the big "B"?

    I am sure there is going to be more than one fellow here that says be it...not saying who is wrong and who is right...not going to try too understand this as it is far above my inteligence level.

    Some of this safety stuff can be, at least in my perspective, reminds me of how some folks feel about firearms...Have had more than one heated discussion with several folks about firearms...and almost always walk away with a headache. I am sitting here, accross the room from a gun safe that has the door cracked open. There is at least 4 loaded firearms in that safe....all with the barrels pointed at me...have been this way for over 2 years now and to date I have not had a firearm decide to discharge a round.....
  3. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I too have not understood what "stale smoke" means in the context of hot smoking. I don't have a BGE (I have a Weber which works in a similar way) and I always use a combination of the bottom and top vents to finely manage the internal temperature. You never completely close the top vent (or the fuel will go out) so there is always air/smoke flowing through the the unit.

    I think the myth that this environment would lead to an increased risk of botulism is a result of extrapolating a single factor of lower oxygen environment to its extreme. Whenever you control the internal temperature of a smoker using the vents you are simply reducing the available oxygen to the coals and therefore inside the cooking chamber too. This lower oxygen environment is going to flow upwards and out of the the top vent - faster if it is fully open and slightly slower if it is partially closed. To achieve the required amount of oxygen coming in contact with the coals you have the choice of either having the top vent fully open and almost close the bottom vent or partially close the top vent and open up the bottom vent. Either way the same volume of air/oxygen needs to flow over the coals and therefore through the chamber. Either case is likely to result in similar reduced oxygen levels within the cooking chamber - but does this increase the risk of botulism?

    Well no.

    If you are cooking a lump of meat then, proving the meat is intact, any botulinum spores will be on the surface. Botulinum spores are killed after 3 minutes exposure to a temperatures of 121 C (250 F) and the botulinum toxin is destroyed by heating to 80 C (176 F) for 30 minutes or 100 C (212 F) for 10 minutes. As it is the ingestion of the pre-formed toxin that causes the food poisoning, with the inside of the smoker chamber usually between 225-250 F (or above) any toxin that may have formed on the surface of the meat will have quickly been broken down. There would possibly be some additional risk if the surface of the meat had been punctured (by injecting or with a probe) as this could take spores down into the meat mass - and if the centre of the meat did not reach 80 C (176 F) some toxin may not be broken down. This risk (if present) would be no different however if the temperature was being controlled by the bottom vent alone or a combination of the top and bottom vents.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  4. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I appreciate your post, but you are wrong. I MAY just be learning something I don't know.  That is why I asked the question.  To see if someone can show me there is more danger from botulism than I have read.  We don't all go to the same sites for info, you understand.  I just wanted to make sure. 
    I hate Goggle.  It's not as good of a search engine as Alta vista used to be.  Site Content used to considered back then.

    And while I have not read 'all' of the many thousands of posts, and threads in these forums.  I have read a lot of them over the last couple of years, but didn't remember finding any on the "odds" of getting botulism poisoning.
    So maybe this thread will serve some purpose after all.  At least it got some people searching for their own answers.
    Again, I am not saying ignore botulism chance, just saying don't obsess over it.

    I don't recall saying I'm asking someone to sway my mind,  Just that I "AM" willing to learn.
    I'm sorry if just the title of this thread upset you so much. 
    Maybe none of us should ever ask a question that may, or may not, have been posted ever before.
    Would that make you a happier person?

    Your post cracked me up.  You're right about written instructions.




    Now, before a Moderator closes thread,

    I want to say this.  I really am looking for info.  I never meant it to be argumentative. 

    Just looking for info, and to get people researching for themselves.  Then they an make their own judgment calls. But I want it to be realistic.
    I'm not saying to disregard food safety.  I follow guidlines much more closely than I used to.  But maybe a caveat should be added to all those post advising to just toss food in disregard of chances of illness or death. 
  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I can see exactly where you are coming from and it is always important to ask questions in order to understand. Statistics are all relative and we all know that they can be used to support an argument or sometimes scare. In Europe at the moment we have people questioning the safety of flying following several recent air crashes - especially the recent one in the Alps. Look at the actual statistics though and it still remains one of the safest means of transport.

    Unfortunately with so many variables you never know exactly why the statistics are as they are. Playing devils advocate, maybe only reason that the incidence of botulism poisoning is so low is because almost everyone who smokes meat IS adhering to the USDA guidelines already...
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    quote fpmitch,
    Now, before a Moderator closes thread,

    I want to say this. I really am looking for info. I never meant it to be argumentative.

    Just looking for info, and to get people researching for themselves. Then they an make their own judgment calls. But I want it to be realistic.
    I'm not saying to disregard food safety. I follow guidlines much more closely than I used to. But maybe a caveat should be added to all those post advising to just toss food in disregard of chances of illness or death.


    fpmich, good morning.....

    Things you can do to increase your chance of getting botulism.....

    Do not properly pressure can food.... use a water bath for beans, carrots, meats, fish etc.... only bring the temperature up to 212 degrees F when canning.... instead of 250 degrees F... That will insure any botulism spores have not been killed....

    When pickling foods, do not properly acidify the pickling juice... do not add extra lemon juice or vinegar to lower the pH to 4.6-4.7 (to allow for test measurement accuracy)... that will insure the botulism spores can grow and multiply....

    Vacuum pack your food and do not store in a refrigerator or freezer.... leave it on the kitchen counter.... botulism really likes a low oxygen environment and a 70 ish degree temperature..... that will allow the spores to flourish...

    Smoke your sausages, bacon etc. in a low oxygen environment of a smokehouse without the use of nitrite... If you read packaged meats ingredients lists, where the meats are smoked, almost every package lists nitrite...

    Unfortunately, most folks in the US follow safe food practices, and manufacturers are mandated by law, to follow safe food practices, thus skewing the data making it SEEM like botulism is nearly impossible to contract....

    Take your time.... do some testing with different food groups and processing methods..... DO NOT FEED ANYONE ELSE YOUR TEST FOODS...... then get back to us with your results.... be sure to notify your relatives you are testing how to contract botulism, so the doctors don't waste time trying to diagnose your condition.... As you have noted, botulism is sooooo rare, most doctors don't know what to look for...

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  7. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    "Smoke your sausages, bacon etc. in a low oxygen environment of a smokehouse"

    Is that something you measured or tested out?
  8. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Can botulism cause a zombie outbreak?
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Smoking Without Nitrates

    For those who smoke meats without cures, it will be advisable to smoke them at temperatures well above the danger zone (>160° F, 72° C). Such a product will not be pink but will exhibit a typical grayish color of cooked meat. Adding cure to meats that will be smoked brings many benefits (explained later), one of them is preventing the danger of contracting food poisoning, known as botulism. Barbecued meats are smoked at much higher temperatures which eliminates the danger of Clostridium botulinum producing toxins.

    Those who insist on smoking meats without nitrates, should be aware that the internal meat temperature trails the temperature of the smokehouse by about 25° F and to be on the outside of the danger zone, the smoking must be performed at temperatures higher than 170° F (77° C) which in our opinion becomes cooking with smoke. Clostridium botulinum bacteria need moisture, warm temperatures and the absence of oxygen. These are prevalent conditions in a small self contained smoker, where incoming air is kept at minimum in order for the sawdust to smolder and not to burst into the flames. A large outside smokehouse with a separate fire pit is at a smaller risk as there is an ample flow of fresh air that enters smoking chamber together with the smoke. Using dry wood increases safety as less moisture will be created.


    5.4.4. Fish

    Listeria monocytogenes has been found in commercial samples of cold smoked fish leading to product recalls in New York (Cold smoked sea bass FDA Recall No.F-313-1) and Seattle, WA (Cold smoked salmon FDA Recall #F-265-1). These recalls demonstrate that even with HACCP and careful plant sanitation, commercial processors have contamination incidences in their cold smoked fish processes. In New York, fish sausage was recalled because laboratory analysis found pH (acidity), salt and water activity levels in the product were such that they could potentially permit Clostridium botulinum to develop and produce the toxin (NY State Agriculture Commissioner 2000).


    atomicsmoke.... You should do the "no nitrite" in foods you are planning to smoke and report back to us on your findings.... DO NOT FEED THOSE PRODUCTS TO OTHERS.....
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2015
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  11. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Please ....not the regurgitated smokemeatsandsausages/Mariansky material.

    Nice try regarding hot smoking....I am sure you are aware that even hot smoked fish has been found contaminated with botulism toxin. Why? Smoke temp was safe. Because it stayed in vacpac or MAP for a long time at unsafe temps. AFTER smoking. That is the problem...
    There is no organism growth during smoking. Cold or hot.

    Don't appreciate the personal attack (the "Duct tape can't fix stupid' case you decide to clean your tracks :)).
    This is your second strike.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  12. Geeeeezzzzzz     Enough is enough      Lets get back to smoking 

  13. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    no word on the zombies?
  14. Hello.  Sorry I got a little outta line.  I also don't know why I don't just shut up but here I go again.  Many folks here know WAY more than I do about this subject but here is my take on your question of WHY versus WHY NOT.

    Frank; your example of a 300 mile round trip answers the question PERFECTLY.  It's NOT about statistics.  It's about responsible behaviour.  You can't ASSUME anything.  Now if I were giving you instructions on which route you should take, I'd be irresponsible not to advise you to: A. learn to drive a car. B. Get a driving license. C. Make sure everyone is wearing a seatbelt, AND D. you should probably lay off the alcohol while driving;   BEFORE taking your daughter on a 300 mile round trip.  For all we know, some person reading the advice may be a blind alcoholic who has never driven a car before.  I sold my offset to a guy who saw me pull a 15lb brisket off it; and he tasted it.  When I was selling he was ALL OVER IT.  Said he couldn't wait to smoke a brisket .  I asked if he had ever even bbq'ed half a chicken.  His response was "NO.  I usually precook chicken in an oven.  But how hard can it be? A brisket is only a big joint of beef".  I don't know if he can cook anything and he didn't ask for help or advice.  That mentality is out there and it is something we can't ignore.  Since being here in England I have seen and heard first hand just GREEN some folks are when it comes to smoking and curing.  We have a great bunch of guys in the U.K. Group who know their stuff but it is only in the past few years becoming more popular.  Some folks see you pull a large brisket and figure " well if that idiot can do it; how hard can it be"?  It's for those folks that we MUST keep banging on about food safety as a whole.  Not for the members who know what they are doing and just need a little extra help and/or guidance on something they have never tried before.  That's the WHY  you were asking about.  Keep Smokin!

  15. humdinger

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

    While I don't have FDA data to support this, yes it has been known to cause zombies if the climate/soil is just right. I think the moon has to be full too. [​IMG]
  16. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    ALL RIGHT!  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!  I'm shutting down the entire Smoking Meat Forums for excessive blathering!  THAT IS IT!


  17. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Lmao humdinger! I knew it! This is no joke! Now I see why fpmich got all these folks going about this!
  18. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well...symptoms are dropping eyelids, facial paralysis, difficulty breathing so one might look zombie-ish after ingesting the toxin.
  19. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

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