• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

rballard

Sous Vide mishap -- risking botulism?

13 posts in this topic

I've got some lamb riblets from a friend's pasture-raised lamb, which I received frozen; I brined the ribs overnight in the fridge and then put them in my sous vide setup at 145f for 36 hours. Unfortunately, I neglected to put plastic wrap over the water pot and due to evaporation my immersion circulator shut off at some point during the night last night. I don't know how long it was off for, but the water had reached room temperature by the time I found it.

 

I wouldn't serve these ribs to anyone else at this point, but I really don't want to throw them away and am wondering how much of a risk I'd be taking by eating them. They've got another 12 hours at 145f left, and then I was going to grill them before serving, so they should get re-pasteurized. The risk I see is if there were enough botulism spores to produce toxin that won't be destroyed by pasteurization. So I my questions are:

 

-- Does meat like lamb riblet generally contain botulism spores in the first place? It sounds like they're much more common in fruits and vegetables, or food that has touched dirt.

-- The vacuum bags didn't puff up at all. Does this mean that no significant amount of botulism grew?

-- Is botulism toxin just on the surface of the meat? If so, if I dipped the ribs into boiling water briefly to denature any botulism toxin on the surface, would I be making them safe to eat?

 

I know it's easy to say "when in doubt, chuck it", but I was pretty excited about these ribs and that'd be painful. So, how much of a risk is this?

 

Thanks,

- Rick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody can give you the assurances you ask for.

 

Unpuffed bags are a good sign but no guarantee.

 

And there's more to worry about than botulism.

 

62 C for 12 hours probably killed everything.

 

Feel lucky?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I probably wouldn't serve them to other people, out of paranoia, but I'd eat them. Botulinum toxin breaks down rapidly with high heat, and unless you did something odd (rolling the meat, binding pieces together with activa, piercing with a jaquard tenderizer) you can presume the inside of the meat to be sterile. You can also presume that you pasteurized the bejeezus out of the outside, so the only thing that could still live there would be spores. C. perfringens generally doesn't produce significant amounts of toxin before being eaten, so botulinum is the obvious thing to worry about. The toxin would accumulate on the surface, if anywhere, and it's not heat-stable. A quick solution would be to brown the meat by deep-frying very briefly, which would get to all the surfaces. A relatively quick blanching, as you suggested, could work.

 

Here's info on time/temp for denaturing botox.

 

I'm NOT recommending this. I'm not a bacteriologist, and who knows what I'm leaving out. But I'd probably go for it I were the only guinea pig. I hate throwing out food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just toss them and start again

 

nothing is really lost this way

 

as you have learned something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all. You sufficiently scared me out of eating them as-is. Instead I looked up a chart of temperature/time for botulism toxin deactivation (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC291232/), which said that 40 minutes at 165f will do the trick. I turned up the circulator to 165 for the last hour of cooking. This didn't wreck the ribs... they were still plenty juicy :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You lived, but note that pH and toxin type are specified in that study from the 70s that you cite. Neither of those were known in your ribs. I might've done the same thing, but...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I looked up a chart of temperature/time for botulism toxin deactivation (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC291232/), which said that 40 minutes at 165f will do the trick.

 

Umm, where does it say that?  As I read it, Figure 1 on p.2 of the pdf suggests a deactivation time at that temp of at least an hour, with the first no-death sample at 85 minutes (or so) and the projected best fit line at 100 minutes.  Notice that all these samples were at pH 6.8.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nobody can give you the assurances you ask for.

 

Unpuffed bags are a good sign but no guarantee.

 

And there's more to worry about than botulism.

 

62 C for 12 hours probably killed everything.

 

Feel lucky?

I'm pretty sure it takes something like 10 minutes at 100C to degrade botulism toxin... ;-) Maybe he should make lamb stew???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to this more recent study, 5 minutes at 85°C should do the trick. Only the abstract is available for free. As always, beware free advice on lethal toxins ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What did they smell like? I get not wanting to waist food but i had instance where the meat for some reason came out smelling like baby poo. I had came to the conclusion it may have been mishandled during packaging at the grocery store. I wasnt eating something that smelled like poo so in the trash they went.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The kinds of spoilage bacteria that can lead to baby-poo smell are understood much less well than pathogens or pathogenic toxins. Some of them can reproduce in temperature ranges that kill all the relevant pathogenic organisms. It's rare, but it may be possible to do everything by the book in a low temperature cook and still get a bag of stank.

 

But this is completely unrelated to health hazards like botulinum toxin. The presence of one doesn't tell you about the presence of the other. The organism that smells like poo can't harm you ... not that you'd be tempted to find out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By paulraphael
      Does anyone have reliable tricks for getting good flavor out of garlic in a sous-vide bag? I'm talking about using it just as an aromatic, while cooking proteins, or as part of a stock or vegetable puree.
       
      The one time I forgot the maxim to leave raw garlic out of the bag, I ended up with celeriac puree that tasted like a tire fire.
       
      I see some recommendations to just use less, but in my experience the problem wasn't just too much garlic flavor. It was acrid, inedible flavor. Using less works fine for me with other mirepoix veggies.
       
      I also see recipes for s.v. garlic confit (listed by both Anova and Nomiku) and for some reason people say these taste good. How can this be?
       
      There was a thread questioning the old saw about blanching garlic multiple times in milk, which didn't come to any hard conclusions.
       
      I'm wondering if a quick blanch in water before adding to the s.v. bag, to deactivate the enzymes, would do the trick. But I don't know the actual chemistry behind the garlic tire fire, so am not confident this would work.
       
      Some cooks advocate garlic powder; I'm hoping to not resort to that.
       
      Thoughts?
    • By May10April
      I know there was a thread on this a few years ago, however it seems these scales are no longer made or newer better models are available.
      As I've become more serious about my baking, I've decided to get a kitchen scale. I'm debating between the My Weigh KD-8000 http://www.amazon.com/My-Weigh-Digital-Weighing-Scale/dp/B001NE0FU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297958394&sr=8-1 or the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Scale. http://www.amazon.com/EatSmart-Precision-Digital-Kitchen-Scale/dp/B001N0D7GA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1297958443&sr=1-1 Originally I wanted the Taylor Salter High Capacity Scale because it looked cool, but I've noticed it received many mixed reviews. http://www.amazon.com/Taylor-Salter-Aquatronics-Capacity-Kitchen/dp/B004BIOMGU/ref=sr_1_24?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1297958465&sr=1-24
      Here are my requirments:
      -Minimum capacity of 11 lbs
      -Minimum resolution of 1 g
      -Measure in Kg, lb, oz, g
      -Tare feature
      -Preferably have seamless buttons
      I want to get a nice scale. I don't want to get a scale with minimum features only to find in two years that I do enough baking/cooking that requires me to have something more sophisticated.
      Here are a few other questions:
      1. How important is it to have a scale measure fluid ounces?
      2. What about measuring lbs. oz (for example 6 lbs and 4.2 ounces)
      3. Is it important to have a scale measure in bakers %? I'd like to learn how to do these and have a cookbook that shows them next to the measurements. I'm not sure if this is something most people can figure out on their own or it would be handy to have them on a scale. The MW KD-8000 does this.
      The only problem with the MW-KD-8000 is it appears to be big and bulky and I don't have a lot of counter space so I'd probably keep it stored most of the time. The Eat Smart just seems to minimal. The Salter seems like an expensive scale for what it offers and somewhat of a risk.
      Thanks for any help in helping me choose the right scale. I do not know why this is becoming a chore to purchase! I just want to make sure I choose the right one right off the bat.
    • By bhsimon
      Recently cooked whole bone-in lamb shoulder sous vide for 8 hours @ 80°C. The results were like a typical braise. More interestingly, I weighed the different components after cooking for future reference. Here is the breakdown:
       
      Before cooking:
      2.1 kg lamb shoulder – whole, bone-in, untrimmed
       
      After cooking:
      621 g liquid
      435 g bones and fat
      1044 g meat
       
      Almost precisely half of the total weight was meat. Hopefully this will be helpful if you are trying to calculate portions.
       
      As an aside to this: we've been cooking our tough cuts (sous vide) whole, without any trimming at all, and removing fat and bones after cooking. It is so much easier and faster than trimming everything beforehand. The excess fat comes off in large pieces and connective tissue peels away cleanly. Lamb shanks, for instance, are tedious to trim before cooking but easily cleaned up after they come out of the bag. It's luxurious to have big, clean pieces of shank meat although some may prefer on-the-bone presentation. We have tried this with pork shoulder, too, and the unwanted fat is easily removed after cooking with lovely hunks of tender meat remaining for slicing, dicing or shredding.
    • By Franzisaurus_Rex
      FOOD BRETHREN!
      I need some advice. I have one last piece of pork belly confit in the fridge. I brined these bad boys for about 5 days (brine included pink curing salt), vacuum sealed the squares of pork belly with lard and sous vide them at 158 F for 16 hours. I cooked this on 11/10/16 and its been in my refrigerator since. 
      Here is the general recipe I followed, with some modifications based on my taste: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/...
      The last piece is still vacuum sealed and submerged (mostly) in lard. Any visible pork only has contact with the bag. 
      It's staring at me. And calling my name.
      I want to deep fry this sucker and have a little date night with the handsome devil I see in the mirror every morning, but the last thing I want is spoiled food. I can't find any conclusive information about how long pork confit lasts for. I've only seen references that duck confit or in general that the confit technique will last for months in the fridge. I have found no sources which directly addresses pork confit.
      Questions/Factors I'm Considering:
      - Does pork confit keep for as long as duck confit?
      - Does vacuum sealing have any effect on the length of preservation?
      - Does sous-vide cooking method affect the length of preservation?
      I know I am probably being a bit paranoid, but I thought I would do my due diligence before taking the plunge, so to speak. Any advice on these questions would be extremely helpful and appreciated!
      The Franzisaurus-Rex
      PS - you should totally make this if you are into sous vide, confit, food, or have any respect for the enjoyment of life. Flash-searing these things after cooking was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
    • By FrogPrincesse
      Host's note: this delicious topic is continued from What Are You Cooking Sous Vide Today? (Part 2)
       
       
      Duck breast, 57C for 90 min, pre and post sous-vide sear.
       

       
       

       

       
       
      So the texture was not significantly different from what I get with my usual technique, which is grilling over charcoal. But it's more uniformly pink, and there are no slightly overdone spots. I am pleased with the results even though searing in the house means a ton of smoke and duck fat everywhere!   (I did it on the stove in a cast iron skillet, next time I will place the skillet in the oven)
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.