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Food safety question

5 posts in this topic

Yesterday I had taken a hanger steak out of the freezer to thaw for dinner. This steak had previously been cooked sous vide, chilled in ice water and frozen. Due to a medical emergency, it ended up out of the fridge for some 12 hours and was at room temperature when we got back from the hospital. Is this thing safe to it? It was, of course, vacuum sealed but I don't feel comfortable eating it. My husband has asked that I pose the question here.

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Don't think it's safe.

The sous vide temperature was around 135F? Not high enough to sanitize everything.


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No, it's not safe.

Toss it.


Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 


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I hope you do not mind, but I would like to try to answer your question without being an expert or even having any training. I would like to explain my logic. I have recently begun fermenting foods, and it has been quite an education as it seems to be, IMHO, an exercise in growing bacteria. Thus, if my logic is wrong, I would appreciate learning why to improve my understanding. Of course, if it is correct, I appreciate validation too!

In short, I would dispose of the meat.

I have seen with my own eyes that bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature. A couple of jars of ground chiles and a sauerkale have bubbled vigorously at room temp well within 12 hours, with the sauerkale expanding past the capacity of the jar within that time due to the bacterial activity. This is even with a "salt to taste" level of salinity.

The goal of vegetable fermentation is to have the good bacteria win over the pathogenic. An anaerobic environment is created, but with conditions that favor the good. Good bacteria, however, are more susceptible to relatively high temperatures, whereas some bad bacteria, such as botulism, can survive beyond normal temperatures for cooking meat. Thus, at typical meat SV temps, the bad bacteria can survive while the good is killed. Thus SV'ed meat left at room temp, even after refrigeration, really leaves the bad bacteria with a good anaerobic environment to grow without any competition.

As I understand things, this does not guarantee the meat is bad. But it opens the possibility. And the trouble with some bad bacteria is that it doesn't necessarily give signs that it is present. My understanding is that bad bacteria is everywhere, but kept in check by the good that is also everywhere. It's a question of balance, but SV cooking tilts the balance in favor of the bad. That does not mean that SV is bad, just that one needs to be careful.

I have become more relaxed about bacteria. I have thrown out all the anti-bacterial hand soaps and dishwashing liquids in my house. Instead of automatically washing my hands, I ask if doing so is really necessary. If I know the entire history of a veg, I might not wash it except to get the gritty dirt off. That said, I would not eat your meat.

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And, in the case of some of the bad bacteria, especially anaerobic, they produce toxins which, once in the food, cannot be cooked out. -Unlike some foodborne illness which are bacteria or viruses which infect your your body with disease which are killed by heating.

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