Lost Temp overnight

Put a brisket in the bath at 150 yesterday at 9am. Last night at 10pm all was well but this morning I found my Anova had shut down and the water temp was 96. Unplugged and reset and the Anova fired up and temp now back to 150. Is the brisket safe to eat if i hold 150 for another 4 hours or must I toss it?

I’d toss it to be safe. More than 4hr below 130.

+1 I’d toss it. (just not worth the risk). Heh. Anyone who’s had food poisoning could elaborate. :slight_smile: It’s usually much worse than any flu bug.

Any indication as to what happened? Power blip? Maybe hot water vapour got into the head of the APC and overheated it?

I always use a UPS for long cooks so I reduce the risk of power outages. As for the water vapour, covered vessels are your best bet (also help to minimize water loss due to evaporation).

KD, is that a whole brisket or a piece? What time of day is morning? From 150F to 96F indicates a fairly long time shut down, maybe 4 or 5 hours. Your experience demonstrates the value of insulated cooking vessels.

If it’s a whole brisket i’d probably restart and proceed. The brisket cooked for 13 hours at 150F got the entire piece of meat above the thermal death point of pathogens. Thus it should be considered Pasteurized and safe. The internal temperature was also likely higher than 96F when you discovered it.

Note to Alyssa: it might be worthwhile to have an alarm signal set by an interrupted cook similar to the low water alarm.

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chatnoir, are you saying once something has been pasteurized it no longer is susceptible to food poisoning caused by temperatures?

I’ve endured forms of food poisoning on three different occasions (all caused by restaurant food). Let’s just say that at some point during day #2 of the experience…death starts to sound like an acceptable alternative. Yeah, it’s to be avoided.

Since you will be heating it back up to high, microbe killing temperatures again the issue that need concern you is whether microbes have produced toxins during the time at low temps.

It had been cooked for several hours at high enough temp to reach pasteurization. It would take a while even at danger zone temperatures to build up to a dangerous level of bacterial growth. Remember - it’s been in a sealed bag and not exposed to any outside germs since being pasteurized. Couple that with the fact that you will be bringing it back up to high temps again.

I think I’d restart and continue cooking.

Vision, not quite. Safe food handling techniques are seldom a matter of absolutes.

Once food has been Pasteurized it can be considered safe until it isn’t. Food can become contaminated and if not held at a safe temperature outside the danger zone between 40F and 140F the contamination can grow. If you ingest more contamination than your body can handle you will have a food born illness. That is why we chill SV cooked food as rapidly as possible and leave it sealed to prevent contamination.

There’s also the matter of residual dormant spores and toxins that pathogens produce. Thus no food should be considered absolutely safe. We just have to always treat food as potentially harmful and take reasonably prudent measures to keep it as safe as possible.

DParker, contaminated restaurant food is a huge problem, particularly with E. Coli and Salmonella contamination. E. Coli looks like a corkscrew and as you discovered feels like them in your gut, particularly if there are millions of them in there.

When i operated restaurants i routinely used simple agar gel dishes and had my employees place their finger tips on the gel, seal the dish with tape and sign their name over the tape. Any employee whose dish showed significant contamination was fired on the spot. I never had a customer complain of suspected food born illness.

@Mirozen is right in saying its not the bacteria that are at question in this instance, its the toxins.

It is true that the brisket had been cooking long enough to pasteurise prior to temperature loss. There is still some concern here about C. Botulinum. C. Botulinum is much more temperature resistant than the other nasties and is unlikely to be killed in the low temperatures that sous vide cooking uses. It is rendered inactive at temperatures above 126F and below 41F, and in this state is harmless.

We don’t know exactly how long your brisket was in the danger zone. While it is true that you would be returning the brisket into pasteurisation territory it would not have any impact on the toxins produced if there’s been a C Botulinum party going on will no be affected.

I’m afraid I have to come down on the side of don’t risk it with the brisket.

I wonder if it’s possible to save the meat by slicing it thinly and using it for stir-fry or some other technique that exposes it to high heat for a while. Any ideas, anyone?

If there is a concern for the presence of Clostridium botulinum it’s the toxins it produces that are deadly because although you can kill the bacteria with heat the toxins persist. To limit toxin production you want to quickly get your food cold and keep it there, the colder the safer it will be.

Thanks all for your responses. The end of the story is I decided to toss the 18lb, $60 Brisket and smoke 4 racks of ribs for the Super Bowl party. There was plenty of food and the ribs turned out great so no worries. I will experiment with a Sous Vide brisket again soon with the lid on.


kdetrik…did you have a wake for the brisket??? I feel for you. throwing meat away is worse than lighting money. I had a brisket that size once and just defatting it felt like grand larceny. Better luck next time!

You can also denature the toxins with heat.

I feel your pain. Yesterday morning I had to throw away 12 lbs of pork belly I’d spent 2 weeks curing and then cold smoking for 12 hours. After the smoke I found that, somehow, some sort of spoilage had occured during the smoke…apparently producing lactic acid (or something similar) and resulting in 12 lbs of bacon that smelled and tasted like spoiled milk.

The trip to the trash can broke my heart.

If your brisket was in a sealed bag, the contents, after reaching 150f, had enough time and heat exposure (13 hours at 150f) to ensure the contents were safe. That is, unless the package was compromised.

There should not be any issue with food safety provided the brisket is subjected to temperatures greater than 185°F for more than 5 minutes ( i.e. if this is being smoked after sous vide it should not be an issue; http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Factsheets/pdfs/botulism.pdf), which will denature any botulism toxin that could have been created. If the brisket initially pasteurizes the meat (https://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Table_5.1), your only risk is botulism growth. Just to be safe, if you re-pasteurize and proceed to smoke or cook above 185° for a sufficient amount of time, there should not be any credible risk of contamination.