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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Old 02-08-2012, 07:06 PM   #1
Big Sexy
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Question food handling question

My boss wants me to cook a brisket & butt for him, but he wants me to slice & pull the meat and have it vacuum sealed.

What's the correct way you cool meat & seal it, so that food borne pathogens don't grow?

Can I vacuum the meat, then cool it? Or will the meat be too hot to vacuum?

I appreciate any help in this matter.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:45 PM   #2
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What I do. Pulled pork. After the resting period, shred the meat into a shallow pan. By the time you are done separating out the fat, the meat should have cooled significantly. Leave it on the work space, lightly covered, and get the brisket. Slice the brisket. Now put the pork in the fridge. When the brisket is all sliced, place it on a shallow tray. Cover lightly for a few minutes to cool further and then place in fridge. Leave overnight and vac pac the next day. You want the temp of the meat to get below 40° as soon as possible. Letting it lose some heat before putting in the fridge is necessary as household refers are not powerful enough to absorb large amounts of introduced heat. I would not vac pac hot food.

There are special cooling tools and methods used by food professionals. Ice water baths,and ice paddles are easy to use and inexpensive. To cool your food fast first shred or slice the meat, have it in a shallow pan, place that pan in an ice water bath. Then into the fridge.
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Old 02-08-2012, 08:16 PM   #3
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Thanks SD.

I think I'm going to have to try the ice bath technique. My boss is wanting to pick up the meat vacuumed sealed Friday evening (5:30p), and I wont be able to start cooking till early Friday morning.

What would you guess a safe/cool-enough temp would be to seal the meat?
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:15 AM   #4
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Sounds like you have a tight schedule! If you shred and slice the meat and spread it out in the pan it will cool rapidly. The ice bath, put a bag or two of ice on top too, will chill it to a safe temp in short order. Serve Safe says meat should cool to 70° within 2 hours and be at or below 41° in the next 4 hours. So you have a 6 hour window. These are maximum times. Faster cooling is best.

For vac-pacing, the only issue I have with sealing up warm meat is the juices flow into the seal and could prevent a good seal. That's why I suggest vacing cool or cold meat. Wait till the meat is below 70° and you will be fine. If the meat is still warm after sealing it up, place the packets back in the ice water to cool completely. Don't want to make your boss sick!


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Old 02-09-2012, 09:44 AM   #5
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Cool, cool, cool. No matter what your boss says you are responsible for food safety and if you can't cook it, cool it and vac pack it on his time schedule then don't do it. Warm food in a Vac pak is a recipe for sick people. It has to be below 40deg. before vac packing.
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Old 02-09-2012, 11:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkQPine View Post
It has to be below 40deg. before vac packing.
Why?

That is the equivalent of saying that you have to cool it to below 40 before you put it in a ziplock and squeeze the air out or before you put it in tupperware and burp the top.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkQPine View Post
Cool, cool, cool. No matter what your boss says you are responsible for food safety and if you can't cook it, cool it and vac pack it on his time schedule then don't do it. Warm food in a Vac pak is a recipe for sick people. It has to be below 40deg. before vac packing.
I agree with this. YOU should set the schedule. When I cook for people I tell THEM when they can pick up the meat. It's done when it's done and it's packaged when that's done. I get that you're trying to work on a schedule and that's necessary for catering, vending, etc. But if you're not going to be able to get it done by 5:30 then just tell him that.

I agree with timzcardz above, though, and don't get why you have to cool meat to below 40 to vac pac. I prefer to cool the meat before vacu packing because then you don't have all the juice trying to suck out of the bag and it makes less of a mess, but I would not say that it's a MUST. As far as I can tell, you can vacuseal when it's piping hot, but I just wouldn't recommend it.
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:14 PM   #8
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The local health dept says the meat has to be vac sealed after it has cooled to 40 or less because vac sealing creates an anerobic (no air) envoirnment which is one condition necessary for botulism toxins to form along with temps between 40-140.
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
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The local health dept says the meat has to be vac sealed after it has cooled to 40 or less because vac sealing creates an anerobic (no air) envoirnment which is one condition necessary for botulism toxins to form along with temps between 40-140.
I did not know this, I had been vac sealing hot, then ice bath, dry and into freezer. Cools quick but seems not recommended.

I may start putting in zip log bag to ice bath, then put in vac bags to seal and then put in freezer. Its an extra step but if its safer, not a big deal.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timzcardz View Post
Why?

That is the equivalent of saying that you have to cool it to below 40 before you put it in a ziplock and squeeze the air out or before you put it in tupperware and burp the top.
Technically you do!
If your bagging or sealing warm meat your inviting the risk of botchulism forming.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:24 AM   #11
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To add to the mix, the Food Saver and other home vac pack machines are not approved for commercial operations like a restaurant, caterer etc. Everyone uses them but just so you know, they are not NSF and are not approved, at least in my state. If you have ever watched Iron Chef, you will have seen the type that is approved. They are hugely expensive and that is why most small restaurants and caterers don't use them.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:57 AM   #12
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Always cool meat before packaging. Heat creates steam, steam creates air and the combination of heat and air breed bacteria.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PorkQPine View Post
To add to the mix, the Food Saver and other home vac pack machines are not approved for commercial operations like a restaurant, caterer etc. Everyone uses them but just so you know, they are not NSF and are not approved, at least in my state. If you have ever watched Iron Chef, you will have seen the type that is approved. They are hugely expensive and that is why most small restaurants and caterers don't use them.
I had read this before and wish they had an in between model that was approved.

I am not sure I understand their reasoning, as far as I know zip lock freezer bags are approved, and IMO are not as good as a Food Saver.

Someone should come out with a caterer model that is a couple hundred bucks with out all the bells and whistles.

I wonder if one like this would be an approved model http://www.cabelas.com/product/Home-Cabin/Food-Processing/Vacuum-Sealers|/pc/104798880/c/104723280/sc/104668380/Cabelas-Commercial-Grade-Vacuum-Sealer/714750.uts?destination=%2Fcatalog%2Fbrowse%2Fhome-cabin-food-processing-vacuum-sealers%2F_%2FN-1101302&WTz_l=SEO%3Bcat104668380
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:34 AM   #14
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Hi! Would you please tell me that what is a safe internal temperature for cooking meat and poultry? I am waiting for your reply.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Hi! Would you please tell me that what is a safe internal temperature for cooking meat and poultry? I am waiting for your reply.
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