Smoked meats and cheeses are delicious on their own and can add flavor to any menu item your facility prepares. If you smoke your own product in-house, there are some precautions that you should take to ensure that it will be safe for your customers to enjoy. This week, we’ll share a few tips that will help you smoke your meats and cheeses according to ServSafe MN safety standards.
Keeping Smoked Product Pathogen Free
Smoking adds flavor and cures foods at relatively low temperature. This means that you must be aware of the temperature of your process throughout the smoking process. The Minnesota Food Code states that foods cannot be in the danger zone for more than two hours, so your product should be smoked at over 140 degrees or be in your smoker for a short amount of time.
Since there is the potential for bacteria to grow while you are smoking meat, we have a few tips to ensure that your product will not become a breeding ground for food-borne pathogens.
- Never smoke partially cooked or partially frozen product
- Never baste your product in the same brine your raw product marinated in
- Always smoke reasonable sized portions
Placing partially thawed or cooked product in your smoker will almost always guarantee that its internal temperature will be in the danger zone during all steps of the smoking process. This will increase bacteria growth and pose a health risk to anyone who consumes the final result. Make sure that you always allow adequate time for thawing should you desire to smoke previously frozen product.
It is also a good idea to assess the size of the portions of food you are placing in your smokers. Small smokers may not be able to safely cure large chunks of meat. This will leave a raw interior that has been in the danger zone far too long and increase the chances of spreading food-borne illness.
If you are smoking fish or cheese, heating your smoker to over 140 may produce unsatisfactory results. There is a solution, however, that can allow you to obtain flavorful product without sacrificing food safety. If your smoker has multiple racks, your best option may be to utilize a cold smoking method. This method involves placing a metal container full of ice above and below your cheese or fish product. This will circulate smoke as well as cold air inside of your smoker, hopefully keeping the temperature as low as possible. This method may take some troubleshooting since many smokers operate differently, but once you have mastered cold smoking, your product will not only be safe to eat by ServSafe MN standards, but you will also be able to produce more consistent results.