How low a temp is unsafe for meat?

Hey all! Was cooking a 2lb brisket @ 155º from about 12pm and at some stage overnight, looks like it shut off (water level got too low). The temp was around 109º when I discovered it, and I’ve added more water and started it back up again… but concerned about food poisoning. Think it’s still safe? Or better safe than sorry, bye-bye brisket? :sob: :sob: :sob:

You do not give us enough information. If you were above 130° F for more than 2 hours the meat has been pasteurized killing bacteria. The concern during cooling (after low water shut off) is that spores begin to populate once the water temperature drops below 130°F. We do not know how long the meat was in the danger zone below 130°. The data available is for cooling prior to storage. Cooling is normally done using an ice bath to drop the temperature of the product as quickly as possible.

Safest thing is to discard the meat.

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Thanks for your reply! It was at 155º from at least 12pm-12am, but I’m not sure at what point it shut off overnight, and I only got it back up to temp by 7:30am. Could have been a few hours. Seems safest to toss… so bummed!!

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Stellar, have you considered taking any preventive steps so as not to repeat your disappointing experience? That rapid temperature loss indicates there’s some simple steps to be employed.

Suggestions:

  • Have ample water volume and begin cooking with it near your circulator’s MAX line.
  • Cover your cooking vessel to reduce evaporation. Plastic wrap, ping-pong balls, a lid; your choice.
  • With overnight cooks make a water level check and top up your last tasks of the day.
  • Either insulate or use an insulated vessel. Foam insulated molded containers are an inexpensive solution.
  • Cultivate the habit of thinking in terms of time and temperature as points along a continuing line. For example, at what time did you discover the 109º temperature? A quick average temperature calculation at that time would have revealed the length of time your brisket was in the Food Danger Zone and allowed you to make the safe decision.

If you haven’t already, you might want to arm yourself with the abundance of basic SV knowledge at the following site:

One more thing I would add to chatnoir’s suggestion list is that if your area is prone to power outages and you’ll be doing a lot of long-duration cooks, that you look into getting a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for your circulator. If you have an APC, you should get a 1500VA unit (the Pro will require a larger UPS in all likelihood) - they’re rated based on the wattage the unit requires.

If you do, you’ll want to connect to the UPS with a computer/laptop to change the default behaviour (most turn off after 20 minutes of power outage) - you want the UPS to continue to supply power until the battery is exhausted. If you have an insulated, covered vessel, that will minimize the power that the circulator needs, extending your battery life.

Hopefully the battery will last long enough that the power will be resumed before the battery is exhausted.

I’m probably a bit late with my comment but for future reference the following should be noted.
In Australia we work in centigrade, but I’m sure you can convert.
The danger zone is 21-60C for more than 2 hours, so the meat should not be under 60C for more than 2 hours. As far a pasteurisation goes, this is not necessarily the same for meat. As meat has a high pH and water activity one of the greatest dangers is nonproteolytic clostridium botulinum that can produce toxin at temperatures as low as 3C, so if you do not eliminate it, it means any meat stored in your fridge for more than 10 days at 2-5C can produce dangerous levels of toxin…to eliminate this microbe you need to hold the core temp at 90C for 10min or 85C for 55min. At lower temperatures around 60C it can be many hours. At temperatures around 20-35C if present clostridium botulinum will germinate and rapidly produce toxins. 1mg of toxin is enough to kill every person on the planet, so it’s not to be messed with. Reheating does not eliminate the toxin.

If you chose to eat meat that has an unknown temperature abuse risk it should not be vacuum packed or stored for more than a day in the fridge…

Like they say, if in double, throw it out.

Hi @menziesja,

Definitely a lot of goof information in your comment, however the “danger zone” that you’ve cited is not quite applicable when you are cooking sous vide. Food safety is affected not just by temperature but by time held at temperature, and according to the FDA with enough time most food pathogens are killed at 130°F/54.5°C

Please take a look at Doctor Douglas Baldwin’s " A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking" for details. It has already been provided here by @chatnoir, but here’s the link again for ease of reference: https://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html

Hi all, just wanted to thank everyone for all the really good info! Definitely going to start jotting down stats and timings more diligently - as well as get a lidded container for next time.

On a side note, my friend convinced me that it would be fine and I should save the brisket. I ended up baking it in the oven at 350º (covered, with some broth and veggies) for two hours, then finished it off uncovered at 400º for about 10min. Would have loved to keep it going with the Anova, but felt I should get it into some higher heat all things considered.

I had a little nibble when it was done… and 24 hours later, still being alive and well, I made myself a sandwich. It’s been about 16 hours and I am doing okay haha, fingers crossed it stays that way! :slight_smile:

Stellar, you can relax. FYI, your gut will usually let you know if it objects to something you’ve ingested about 3 hours later.

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