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Nov 21, 2013 03:59 PM

Would you risk it?

So imagine you went out to eat for lunch and ate, and all was well and tasty. Then you went home and started to prep the pork butt for the pulled pork you want to make the next day. You made the rub, coated the meat, covered it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. As you did this, you washed your hands diligently and thoroughly as needed.

Later that night, you woke with horrific cramps which moved on to full-on symptoms of food poisoning which lingered throughout the next day. Not able to make the pulled pork that day, you wrap it securely and put it in the freezer.

Later on you find out that one of the cooks at that restaurant had the swine flu, which sometimes adds a lovely component of "GI symptoms" to the usual respiratory complaints, and later that month, you are thoroughly knocked out for a solid week in bed with the flu so you're never certain if you had garden variety food poisoning or a turbo-charged swine flu.

Regardless, the seasoned pork butt is still in the freezer: Do you attempt to thaw it make make pulled pork or do you toss it out, with the assumption that it is contaminated, even though when you touched it, it was before you had symptom one of anything and washed your hands frequently as you always do.

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  1. Yes, because the pork still needs to be cooked.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      Thanks! I'd hate to toss it, but I'd hate even more to make someone sick.

    2. I would be comfortable using it. Pulled pork is cooked for a long time and to a relatively high final temp. I usually cook my pulled pork at 225 but if you want to be extra careful you can do quick sear before going low and slow. This might burn your rub though.

      CDC says that "Influenza viruses can be destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C])."

      Oh and sorry to hear about that experience. It must have been horrible.

      2 Replies
      1. re: seamunky

        Oh, good. I know that some pathogens are hardy buggers. I usually do this in the crock pot. I guess I'll do it on high.

        And thank you - yes it was one of the worst illnesses I've had, and I've had food poisoning on several different continents. lol Swine flu or food poisoning, it was awful.

        1. re: BabsW

          How was your pulled pork? Do you put sauce in the crock pot with it or some other liquid?

      2. Swine flu doesn't usually infect humans but it can happen. But influenza viruses are real wimps outside the body. Just sitting on a counter they'll die quickly so in a freezer probably even more quickly. And then you're going to cook it.

        1 Reply
        1. Having experienced norovirus from eating the food of a person who turned out to be ill with the same bug, I would recommend tossing it. Especially if you planned on serving it to other people. You do not want to be known as the person who caused a most unpleasant (and dangerous for certain individuals) illness that does indeed knock most people off kilter for at least a week.

          11 Replies
          1. re: janniecooks

            Norovirus isn't swine flu and norovirus is killed at temps above 140.

            1. re: c oliver

              Of course, thanks for pointing that out. I never said they are the same. Whatever the nature of the illness, my point is valid. It is never acceptable to serve food to other people that has been prepped by a person with possibly unwashed bare hands, who later got quite ill. If unwilling to toss it, eat it yourself but do not serve to others. Were I to find myself in the same situation, I would not even eat the food I had prepared.

              1. re: janniecooks

                I've eaten meat that prior to my buying it had flies on it so obviously I have a different perspective. There are quite a few things that I wouldn't eat raw but will eat cooked. So things like this are valid to you and unacceptable to you but my mileage obviously varies.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Heh. Yep, I've so been there. In some places, you don't have a choice.

                  I've bought beef and chicken that's been on the ground after it was cut up and it's covered in dirt, pebbles, and probably fecal matter. But then, my eggs in Sri Lanka pretty much always came with fecal matter on the shells.

                  So yeah. Different perspective indeed. :)

                2. re: janniecooks

                  Your concern is valid if we are talking about food served immediately after bare hands have been on it, but NOT food that is then cooked, with subsequent handling done only with utensils.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I became ill from eating food prepared by someone who was ill, despite meeting your "requirements"; in fact the illness was passed on to 16 of 19 people who were present at the same event. The food was prepared by the person with the illness, then cooked - fully cooked. So your "requirements" were met. Yet 16 people were made ill by the sick person's food. Two were hospitalized. One lost a dangerous amount of weight. I was flat out for two weeks and functional but still not right for two more weeks. So I disagree with you and c oliver. In my opinion it is not a matter of opinion, but you disagree. Feel free to risk your health, I say no thank you.

                    1. re: janniecooks

                      Sounds to me that the people got the illness passed on by the person who was sick (one can be contagious even if not symptomatic) rather than by the food that was cooked.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        No, the person who was sick did not attend the party - get this, due to her illness. But she sent her food along anyway, knowing she was seriously ill (and probably not recognizing that her poor hygiene would cause others to suffer). The others at the party did not know about the situation until they (mostly) all got sick. Like I said in my first reply, you do not want to be known as that person who made other people sick.

                        1. re: janniecooks

                          Okay, thanks for clarifying. So now I see she was sick and handling the food after cooking it. OP's situation is completely different.

                          1. re: janniecooks

                            Yuck, that is awful. I can't imagine. I've tossed foods I'd prepared that were meant for others if I so much as feel a sniffle coming on.

                            I know most people aren't as conservative with germs as I am, but like you say, I do NOT want a reputation as "that person" who got others sick. Especially when you cook or bake for a living, bad word of mouth spreads fast.

                            1. re: nothingswrong

                              Thanks for the sympathetic reply. (edited to remove objectionable content.)

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