Need help...Crockpot safety
Need some help...I was going to put a pork shoulder in the crock pot tonight, on low for about ten hours.....for pulled pork. I've done it a bunch of times, family and friends love it. But today, talking with a co-worker....she said that the low temp will let bacteria grow. We've never gotten sick before from doing this....but it makes me wonder.....is she right? I put it on low for about ten hours....then pull it, add sauce....and let it go till I can't take it anymore....smells so good.
Balderdash! Why would the manufacturer make a product with its low setting at a temperature that would promote food poisoning and invite product liability lawsuits? The fact that you've done this and never sickened anyone shows that what you are doing is perfectly fine. There is even a principle for slow-roasting meats, which is to cook the roast at the temperature you want the finished roast to register - e.g., 155 degrees for as many hours as it takes for the meat to reach 155. It's not done all that often because most ovens can't be set low enough, and people don't want to cook for the prolonged time periods involved - but it's an accepted method.
I have read that there is a slim possibility, if your meat is frozen. On that note, I have put a frozen turket breast in at 7 am, and had it ready for dinner by 5pm, on high. I think you are OK, I've done what you are suggesting probably at least 100 times.
People tend to grossly overestimate food safety risks. I don't have a reference handy, but look for a "time-temperature chart" for salmonella or E. coli or your bacteria of choice. I know the USDA has one on their website but I can't find it right now.
You'll generally find that chicken can be safe even at an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees if it is held there long enough. For example (not the best reference but it will do):
In this study, they find that eggs and chicken with salmonella are safe to eat if held at 140 degrees for around 80 minutes. Like I said, the USDA should have an official chart on their website somewhere.
Pork is even safer as the trichinosis bacteria is killed almost instantly at 137 degrees. In addition, it is basically non-existent in commercially produced pork today.
Beef steaks and roasts are also easy as E. coli resides on the surface of the meat, not the interior. So as long as the surface of your meat reaches USDA recommended temperatures, it is safe. This is true to a somewhat lesser extent for chicken. This is not true for ground beef.
Your slow cooker, even on the low setting, is likely total overkill as far as food safety goes.
**edit** I should add that when I say "people tend to grossly overestimate food safety risks," I am referring to doneness of meat. I find that people tend to grossly underestimate food safety risks when it comes to cross-contamination.
Thanks everyone for the info. Have never had a problem, but was just second guessing myself. Back to enjoying the pork!!