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Chicken not good

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  • efran1666
    Club Member
    • Apr 2017
    • 5

    Chicken not good

    So last week I catered an event at my work. I smoked some pork and chicken, pulled them and added a chili con carne to make street tacos.

    The reviews on the day of were great for both the chicken and pork. I fed about 150 people, but about a dozen of them reported getting sick.

    By process of elimination we determined that it was the chicken that may have been the culprit.

    I brined the chicken in a simple salt water and lemon mixture overnight. Smoked two batches of chicken between 225 and 275 on a stick burner smoker. I smoked them to 170-175 internal temp.

    It fell off the bone and pulled nicely.

    I am bit baffled and looking for any input.
  • Jerod Broussard
    • Jun 2014
    • 9741
    • East Texas
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    What was the time b/n cooked and serving?

    Sick- vomiting within 2 hours, or delayed diarrhea and stomach cramps?

    Any pastas or rice cooked ahead of time?


    • efran1666
      efran1666 commented
      Editing a comment
      Cooked Wednesday, refrigerated overnight. Mixed chili in on Friday and froze. Warmed and served on Saturday at 1pm.

      Cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Not within two hours but maybe 4 or 5.
  • Mark V
    Club Member
    • Oct 2018
    • 246
    • Minnesota

    When I have been sick from food, it has usually been cross contamination or poor sanitation from the cook. Sorry to say, but you have to consider everything. And it usually has been 4-8 hours later.


    • Mr. Bones
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      • Sep 2016
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      Might it be, another thing to consider, is that there was summat wrong with th pork, or chicken, before ya ever lit a match?

      It occasionally happens...


      • ribeyeguy
        Charter Member
        • Jun 2015
        • 1297
        • S. E. Wisconsin
        • Weber Platinum Performer, 18"WSM, Smokenator, Slow 'n Sear.

        150 people served and 12 got sick? Does that mean that the 138 that didn't get sick can just fight off food borne pathogens? No, it sounds much more likely to me that the 12 probably have overly sensitive stomachs and indulged in a type of food that they normally wouldn't and unfortunately paid the price for it. I wouldn't sweat it.


        • randy56
          Club Member
          • Aug 2017
          • 448
          • Newburgh In

          I would be sick, if I cooked and people got sick. Could it be the product? you cooked to a high enough temp. Hope you find out.


          • Donw
            Club Member
            • Jul 2017
            • 3043

            So sorry to hear about this and I know you are feeling bad too. Sounds like the food was prepared properly. I would think about how the chicken was held between Wednesday and Saturday. Contaminated container, center of food not taken to below 40 degrees fast enough or did the food get reheated thoroughly to 140 degrees. Then again it could be any number of other things from sauces to utensils that the 8% consumed or used that the others didn’t.


            • treesmacker
              Club Member
              • May 2018
              • 919
              • Grants Pass OR
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              You didn't mention the brining temperature - was it brined under proper refrigeration? Sorry this happened and hope you can get to the bottom of it.


              • Nuke em
                Club Member
                • Jun 2016
                • 738
                • Nj

                Also when ya prepared the chicken was it slimy? That’s a sign that the chicken was frozen then thawed or has been brought to the danger zone then refrozen then sold.
                Also if fresh garlic was used then that could be something to look at


                • Somerville-Q
                  Club Member
                  • Aug 2015
                  • 1

                  Agreeing with DonW - the timing and symptoms sound like Staph food poisoning - when Staph bacteria grow and produce a toxin. The toxin, potent enough to have been considered in both cancer treatment and biowarfare, survives subsequent cooking after it's produced. No reason to think it would be uniform throughout the batch, and there is individual variation in susceptibility to the toxin, AND not everybody probably ate the same amount. The bacteria are common in noses and sometimes on hands and could have been on the chicken in the beginning, produced during brining, or maybe the chicken wasn't cooled fast enough. We probably all, definitely including me, take some chances some times and then rarely the odds catch up to us.

                  Sorry - if the chicken was the only link, it was probably the chicken. Unless it was caused by a missing link?


                  • fzxdoc
                    Founding Member
                    • Jul 2014
                    • 5084
                    • My toys:
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                    Oh gosh, this is every cook's nightmare, making people sick with our food. I'm so sorry that this has happened to you, efran1666 .

                    You're doing the right thing, searching for answers and thinking of ways to up your game with respect to food handling safety.

                    These are the four goals that I strive for with everything I cook:
                    • Cooling food to be stored quickly (ice bath is best).
                    • Keeping food cold below 40° deg while in storage
                    • Reheating quickly to 165°
                    • Holding hot foods above 140° and cold foods below 40° until served and consumed.

                    Even with the best of techniques and intentions, though, problems can arise. I hope that all of those at your workplace who got sick are now fine.



                    • FireMan
                      Charter Member
                      • Jul 2015
                      • 7678
                      • Bottom of Winnebago

                      I think at this time you can only do what fzxdoc said. At this time, unless you do an extensive investigation, it’s only guess work. We weren’t there, so we have no idea. And one can’t necessarily blame the chicken due to probably more that than 12 ate chicken. It sounds like a platter/container of something or a utensil or maybe a person using one of the above contaminated some one thing & that one “thing” is the culprit. If it were your cooking or prep there would have been a larger number who would have caught the cooties. At this point it’s water over the dam. FWIW, be careful.


                      • Jerod Broussard
                        • Jun 2014
                        • 9741
                        • East Texas
                        • Pit Barrel Cooker "Texas Brisket Edition"
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                        Problems with cooking for large groups:

                        1. Numerous ingredients of large quantities potentially prepared by those who have no clue about proper cooling and heating. Some people really think it is OK to have LARGE pots of product cool at room temperature. Even those that have the know how, since they don't own a business which prepares food to feed hundreds on a regular basis they don't have the equipment to properly cool and reheat.

                        2. People who think Hygiene is a greeting. Too many hands in the pot, especially the very young or very old. You look at certain outbreaks and most occur in Day Cares and Nursing Homes.


                        • Troutman
                          Troutman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Hi Jean !!!

                        • MBMorgan
                          MBMorgan commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Hey, Jerod ... I don't suppose you'd like to join us at our BIL's (the one who thinks the first step in cooking a turkey is to let it come up to room temp on the counter for a couple of days) place this November for Thanksgiving dinner?

                        • Jerod Broussard
                          Jerod Broussard commented
                          Editing a comment
                          MBMorgan guy here smokes turkeys at 175 for HOURS AND HOURS. When it goes bad it's going to be BAD.
                      • holehogg
                        Club Member
                        • Nov 2017
                        • 2356
                        • Port Elizabeth, South Africa

                        Truly sorry this happened. I had a situation where I served pre marinated chicken thighs and of the 140 pieces there were 3 pieces that were off. I cooked them in my smoker and never had any signs that the bad pieces were amongst the rest (before and after cooking). Fortunately the people that got the bad noticed a bad smell after biting into the piece.

                        As mentioned above I doubt you will ever get to the bottom of it. I think there are are far too many factors that could come into play. Being a big event there surely we're other people serving and coming into contact with the good othanther than just you and any could have had unclean utensils, hands who knows what.
                        I feel for you and the disappointment you may be going through but I am confident the people you prepared for are fully aware that you or anybody for that matter would never intentionally go out to get people sick. It was an unfortunate thing that happened.


                        • Troutman
                          Club Member
                          • Aug 2017
                          • 7197

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                          Nothing more to say that hasn't already been said....bummer man !!!




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