Danger Zone

I cooked a five pound leg of lamb in a vacuum bag in the water bath at 131degrees F for approx. 36 hours. I turned off the device and the meat sat in the vacuum bag for approximately 5 hours in the cooking water. Do I need to be concerned about bacteria?

yes!! alway keep at temperatur until service! or chill it on ice right away!!

Yes. I’m not squeamish, but I certainly wouldn’t eat that.

It really depends on whether the leg was butterflied. If the cut was thinner than 2-1/4 inches, then the meat will be pasteurized right before 6 hours cut-off of “danger zone time”. 5 hours of cooling pasteurized meat (assuming it was vacuum packed) even in “danger zone” temperature is borderline safe (rule of thumb: cooling must be less than 6 hours from 130 to 41ºF).

If you leg of lamb was thicker than 2-1/4 inches, then at 131°F you won’t pasteurize meat in 6 hours. In that case it is kind of unsafe even if you kept it at the serving temperature.

All in all, lamb considered to be safer meat, danger of bacteria is coming more from handling before cooking so I probably would eat it myself, won’t serve it to my guests who might be immune-compromised or pregnant, and in no circumstance would give it to any paying customers. Food safety specialists would certainly disagree with me.

Thanks for your comments. BTW, the lamb was in 131 degress F for 36 hours prior to the shut-off. I would think that regardless of thickness, it should be pasteurized over that amount time. No?

Rogerskf - yes, it might, but it is only a reduction in number of bacteria. By holding it at less than 50c for an extended period of time, you’ve given all of those rather nasty bacteria a chance to reestablish themselves. & at 50c, they’ll do it very fast.