FSIS Guidelines on Internal Meat Temperature and Cooling

A while ago, I posed the question, “What if you don’t reach the desired Internal Meat Temperature of (often) 154 degF before you run out of time and have to terminate your smoker’s run?” You don’t want to crank up your smoker’s temperature hot, or you’ll “break” the fat and ruin the sausage. You’re boxed in. So what should you do? sausage making

Response was underwhelming. People stayed away in droves. …so I asked our ol’ buddy, Chuckwagon, what he thought. He mumbled something about FSIS rules, “pre-cooked” foods, and wandered off toward his refrigerator. Moments later, I heard the door open and close, then the back door. I assumed that, intrepid seeker of knowledge that he is, he was going outside to do some test runs. The results…???

“Delicious,” he said, wiping his chin and moustache with a napkin as he came in. He promptly went upstairs and soon, snores could be heard issuing from his combination kitchen/office/private space.

What could I do? Well, after doing the dishes, I fired up my trusty PC and looked up “FSIS” on the internet. I was worried- – in his ramblings, ol’ CW might have been radicalized by the ISIS people running rampant over the Middle East at the moment. I needn’t have worried, though. It stands for FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Food Safety and Inspection Service. …”our” guys. …the “good guys.” …as in, they inspect pork, as well as all the other stuff.

Jackpot came at a PDF posted at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/95-033F/95-033F_Appendix%20A.htm which is gobbledygook for “Appendix A, Compliance Guidelines For Meeting Lethality Performance Standards For Certain Meat And Poultry Products.” You may ask, what is it an appendix TO? Well, for those who fell asleep during the lecture on the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), that particular one is

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Food Safety and Inspection Service
9 CFR Parts 301, 317, 318, 320, and 381
[Docket No. 95-033F]
Performance Standards for the Production of Certain Meat and Poultry Products

So, okay, what’s the big deal? Well, inside Appendix A is the following table:

1. Cooked beef and roast beef, including sectioned and formed roasts, chunked and formed roasts, and cooked corned beef can be prepared using one of the following time and temperature combinations to meet either a 6.5-log10 or 7-log10 reduction of Salmonella. The stated temperature is the minimum that must be achieved and maintained in all parts of each piece of meat for a least the stated time.

Minimum Internal . . . . . . . . . . . . .Minimum processing time in. . . . . .
Temperature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .minutes or seconds after minimum temperature is reached
Degrees. . . . . .Degrees . . . . . . . . 6.5-log10. . . . . . 7-log10
Fahrenheit. . . . Centigrade. . . . . . . Lethality. . . . . . . Lethality
—————————————————————–
130 . . . . 54.4 . . . . 112 min. . . . . 121 min.
131 . . . . 55.0 . . . . .89 min. . . . . .97 min.
132 . . . . 55.6 . . . . .71 min. . . . . .77 min.
133 . . . . 56.1 . . . . .56 min. . . . . .62 min.
134 . . . . 56.7 . . . . .45 min. . . . . .47 min.
135 . . . . 57.2 . . . . .36 min. . . . . .37 min.
136 . . . . 57.8 . . . . .28 min. . . . . .32 min.
137 . . . . 58.4 . . . . .23 min. . . . . .24 min.
138 . . . . 58.9 . . . . .18 min. . . . . .19 min.
139 . . . . 59.5 . . . . .15 min. . . . . .15 min.
140 . . . . 60.0 . . . . .12 min. . . . . .12 min.
141 . . . . 60.6 . . . . . 9 min. . . . . .10 min.
142 . . . . 61.1 . . . . . 8 min. . . . . .8 min.
143 . . . . 61.7 . . . . . 6 min. . . . . .6 min.
144 . . . . 62.2 . . . . . 5 min. . . . . .5 min.
145 . . . . 62.8 . . . . . 4 min.. . . . * 4 min.*
146 . . . . 63.3 . . . . . 169 sec. . . .182 sec.
147 . . . . 63.9 . . . . . 134 sec. . . .144 sec.
148 . . . . 64.4 . . . . . 107 sec. . . .115 sec.
149 . . . . 65.0 . . . . . 85 sec. . . . .91 sec.
150 . . . . 65.6 . . . . . 67 sec. . . . .72 sec.
151 . . . . 66.1 . . . . . 54 sec. . . . .58 sec.
152 . . . . 66.7 . . . . . 43 sec. . . . .46 sec.
153 . . . . 67.2 . . . . . 34 sec. . . . .37 sec.
154 . . . . 67.8 . . . . . 27 sec. . . . .29 sec.
155 . . . . 68.3 . . . . . 22 sec. . . . .23 sec.
156 . . . . 68.9 . . . . . 17 sec. . . . .19 sec.
157 . . . . 69.4 . . . . . 14 sec. . . . .15 sec.
158 . . . . 70.0 . . . . . .0 sec.** 0 sec.**
159 . . . . 70.6 . . . . . .0 sec.** 0 sec.**
160 . . . . 71.1 . . . . . .0 sec ** 0 sec.**

The 7 log(10) lethality has to do with what proportion of organisms, in this case Salmonella, are destroyed. Trust me, 7 log(10) is way non-lethal! Note that at a typical stall temperature of 140 degrees, you need only get the entire sausage or cut of meat that hot for 12 minutes in order to be safe. At our usual target of 154 degF, you need only 29 seconds. …and since it takes much longer than that to get there, then gradually cool off a bit, you can be pretty safe under typical smoker conditions, even if you don’t hit 154 degF.

There is more good information on cooking methods listed in the appendix. I urge you to have a look. In particular, note this item:

Dwell times of greater than 6 hours in the 50°F to 130°F range should be viewed as especially hazardous, as this temperature range can foster substantial growth of many pathogens of concern. And, a knowledge of the specific product and factors that would favor or inhibit the growth of various bacteria is essential.

I take this to mean that you should use nitrite to inhibit botulism growth, use temperatures above 130 degF to dry and smoke the meat, and drive the meat on upward into the temperature range suggested by the table for at least as long as the table recommends. Then cool rapidly, package, and enjoy soon. And as to cooling, Appendix B states that

During cooling, the product’s maximum internal temperature should not remain between 130°F and 80°F for more than 1.5 hours nor between 80°F and 40°F for more than 5 hours.

 

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