alan tani @ fishing reel repair rebuild tutorial Food Safety for all
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« on: September 04, 2016, 06:18:16 AM »

I figured I would provide some food safety guidance to all to use when preparing anything. I could go on and on but I figured it would be best to start somewhere.

Obviously make sure that all perishables are bought cold, are transported cold and kept cold at home. A cooler in the car works wonders.

For most food items, 40F or below is sufficient. This temperature will also control histamine development in histamine forming species (i.e. tunas, mackerels, yellowtail, herring, jacks, sardines, anchovies, etc.) This is why bringing lots of ice to facilitate rapid cooling is essential while fishing.

For any smoked, cured fish item or ***vacuum packaged raw fish*** where marine strains of Clostridium botulinum Type E are a concern 38F or below is a must. For vacuum packaged raw fish purchased from a store, check the time/temperature indicator which turn a color as seen on the label which indicates temperature abuse has occurred and you SHOULD NOT EAT THE PRODUCT.

***For those who vacuum package at home, it is safest when frozen immediately and defrosted immediately before using (under running cold water) or opened and defrosted in the refrigerator. Most of us at home don't have time/temperature indicators to put on our bags so precautions must be taken.


When looking at this from a regulatory perspective, most people doing conventional cooking at home are instructed to use the target organism Salmonella enteriditis for determining cooking temperatures as this organism is responsible for most food borne illnesses in the retail/restaurant sector of the food world. For advanced cooking procedures like sous vide, canning, smoking, curing, sushi, etc you will be looking at more virulent organisms such as Clostridium botulinum (both proteolytics and non proteolytics), Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, etc.

Cooking to an internal temperature of 145F for 15 seconds

Plain eggs
Fish fillets (not stuffed)
Most fruits and vegetables
Pork (not stuffed)

Cooking to an internal temperature of
145F for 3 minutes
150F for 1 minute
155F for 15 seconds

Ground fish dishes/ mixed foods with ground fish
Ground meat/ mixed foods with ground meat (not poultry)
Mixed egg dishes

Cooking to an internal temperature of 165F for 15 seconds

All poultry products (whether whole, ground or mixed)
All stuffed pasta and stuffed food items.

No knowing if your ground beef was ground through a grinder that just ground poultry products, cook all hamburgers to 165F.
When making hamburgers at home, you can mix a panade with your beef or and other ingredients that will add moisture.

Form your hamburger and put a dimple in the middle of 1 side about 3/4 of the way through. When cooking, sear the dimple side first and then flip over. The dimple will swell up from the heat and you will have an evenly cooked hamburger that won't look like a meatball and won't be raw inside.

If you like them rare and you have a party. Form about 10 hamburgers no dimple and sear both side fast. Have a lasagna dish with a bottle of A1 sauce with some beef stock and seasoning that was boiled up and hot. Place the liquid and hamburgers in the dish and put in a preheated oven that is on a setting that is above 165F.  With the burgers submerged in the liquid and in the oven, cook until 165F. Maybe  20-30 minutes or so. The iron will not have a chance to oxidize with the air and the meat inside will look pink but it will be juicy and fully cooked. Take them out when needed and just flash off the surface liquid on the grill or in a hot pan for a second or 2 so the bun will not get soggy. Enjoy.

For roast beef, roast pork (not pulled pork that is cooked for hours), etc that you don't want to be cooked to death but you want to be soft you need longer times at lower temperatures. Below are a few temperatures that will achieve a 7 log 99.99999% reduction of Salmonella enteriditis in these meat products.

130F for 121 minutes (don't go lower than 130F)
135F for 37 minutes
140F for 12 minutes

As you see, the lower the temperature, the longer the time.

For a 10lbs or less roast use a 350F or greater oven.
For a 10lbs or greater roast use a 250F or  greater oven.

When the temperature is reached, put the oven on the warming setting that is above the temperature that you reached. Hold for the specified time and remove from the oven. Let sit for 15-20 minutes to rest.


For rare steaks at home that were not pinned or injected, you can sear both sides to get a full color change and cook to your desired doneness. Not as safe but not as deadly.

For rare steaks like London Broil that you make for a fast dinner,

Season the meat and let sit on the counter for about 1 hour max.

Put the meat on a cookie sheet and place in 250F oven until the internal temperature gets to 110F, about 20 minutes or so. Take out of the oven and put the oven on broil and when the oven is ready, sear both sides and the internal temperature of the meat should be about 130F. Let rest for about 10 minutes and slice on angle, cutting through the grain.


All cooked foods that are hot held must remain at 135F or higher... Roast beef at 130F or higher if cooked that low.

For products immediately cooked without hot holding that are not shelf stable (not needing refrigeration), immediately cool or serve without temperature control for 4 hours max and then discard all product.


All foods requiring refrigeration must be cooled from 135F to 70F within 2 hours max and from 70F to 41F(38F where needed) within another 4 hours..... If is misses either of the 2, discard the food....Large roasts will need to be cut into sections, placed in long food grade bags with the end over hanging a large bowl and covered ice cubes and cold water while in the fridge. Keep changing the ice and water when melted until cold.
Big pots of food must be put in shallow lasagna dishes (thin metal work best) and placed in a fridge with lots of room or if in the winter, placed by a clean/open/screened window to allow the cold air to rapidly chill if cold enough outside to get the internal temperature down to 70F fast. Stirring food to chill works too.  If you have room or you have a drop in freezer, keeping ice paddles to cool big pots of food fast is a great way to cool foods fast.

If you don't have room or a fridge capable of cooling the food without raising the temperature of your fridge, eat all the food at that sitting or don't make so much food. Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus are 2 heat shocked pathogens that produce toxin during improper cooling.


Reheat all cooked foods to 165F for 15 seconds, period.....


Smoked meats are generally smoked until fully cooked using 1 of the temperature controls listed above.

Smoked fish is another world with the presence of the marine strain of Clostridium botulinum Type E....and Listeria monocytogenes which thrives in smoked fish products when not controlled.

To simplify this

If you are smoking fish to eat immediately (say for a dinner), do your salt brining whether dry or wet under refrigeration and then smoke your fish.

Hot smoked fish is generally what you would be doing here so you could go to 145F and be fine. This will kill off pathogens adequately and get the flavor you want.

Cold smoking for immediate consumption will need a chlorine dip of the fish products prior to brining (1/4 cap chlorine per 1 gallon fresh water and let sit for 15 minutes or so). You will be REDUCING Listeria monocytogenes which will not be killed during the brining and cold smoking temps.

Brining under 38F prevents CBOT toxin formation during brining AND prevents Staphylococcus aureus formation during the brine (Staph thrives is salt brines)

Smoking for vacuum packaging and extended consumption
Fish that were not properly eviscerated (i.e. guts cut open and spilled on the flesh) shall not be used. Also, scrape the kidney matter away under the spinal cord while removing the gills.
I did a video on this which can be found at  (look under resources and click on Fish Evisceration Video)

Proper smoking creates a pellicle (smoke bark on the surface) which has a lower pH on the top and a higher pH underneath next to the flesh. It can also create an anaerobic environment under the pellicle if thick enough.

Hot smoking with a brining procedure that will achieve a 3.5% WPS (water phase salt) (best to work with a process authority) content at an internal temperature of 145F and held for 30 MINUTES MINUMUM will provide a partial destruction of Clostridium botulinum Type E and other non-proteolytics. You are not destroying any of the proteolytics but they grow and produce toxin at higher refrigerated temperatures plus gas off when formed. Non-proteolytics produce no gas and provide no indication of toxin formation. 3.5% WPS with 145F for 30 minutes with refrigerated storage provides barriers to toxin formation. You must have all of them.
Products must be rapidly cooled under refrigeration and if vacuum packaged, must be vacuum packaged cold and labeled KEEP REFRIGERATED AT 38F OR LESS...... Your fridge must be 38F or less at all times.

Cold smoking has no pathogenic lethality (Listeria monocytogenes, etc) and relies heavily on sanitation to prevent contamination as a control measure. Cold smoking relies on WPS content combined with allowing spoilage microorganisms to flourish on the surface to outcompete CBOT toxin formation AND providing a foul odor as a consumer indicator of temperature abuse (in the event of temperature abuse).

As you would need to do with any food production, cleaning, rinsing and sanitizing are critical.

Soaking your fish is a chlorine dip is essential to REDUCE surface pathogens. See above. There are better chemicals but they are not feasible for the home kitchen. Plain bleach (no flavors) is the best you can get at home. This will not reduce that many spoilage microorganisms.

Brining to 3.5% WPS is essential and a brining procedure- a process authority who can make a scheduled process is a great idea....

Cold smoking is not about internal temperature but about oven (smoker) temperature. As a rule of thumb, the smokehouse in any portion holding fish cannot go above 90F, EVER. It is not a bad idea to heat the oven up to a high temperature before smoking to kill off any pathogens that might reside inside the smoker before smoking, just make sure to cool to 90F before putting the fish in.

Your time at this temperature will depend on a variety of factors including species and potential histamine formation during the smoking phase if not done right. When in doubt, contact a process authority.

Some people smoke as low as 50F blowing cold air into the smoker. You are really looking at drying the surface of the fish while allowing the spoilage microorganisms a chance to flourish for your protection. Sounds crazy but that is what is happening.

Once cool, if you are going to vacuum package, label as above and freeze for extended storage.

You can't mess around with smoked fish.

Cleaning, rinsing and sanitizing.

The key with this is to remove/kill all pathogens of public health significance on the surface of food contact equipment to a rate of 5 logs(99.999%).

Cleaning with warm soap and water loosens the dirt which allows the rinsing with potable water to wash away the loosens particles. Once visible clean, a sanitizing solution is employed to kill any remaining microorganisms.

You can use 100-200ppm (1/2cap to 1 cap) plain bleach per gallon of potable water and apply then air dry. No rinse.

200ppm plain ammonia in potable water. See label for mixing concentration.  Apply then air dry. No rinse.

A dunk in boiling water for 30 seconds.

This goes for the kitchen sink before and after cooking.

Also, don't wash off poultry before cooking...Everyone seems to do it, no one knows why and you are just splashing salmonella all over the place..... You will kill them all on the oven.

For your hands, proper handwashing with warm soapy water, no jewelry, rinsing and drying with paper towels while aggressively applying pressure during drying will achieve a 3 log (99.9%) reduction of pathogens of public health significance. When handling smoked fish for vacuum packaging, it is great idea to properly wash your hands and wear food grade disposable gloves. (Don't blow into them before putting them

These are just a few.

This is a BRIEF overview of things we need to do at home in relation to food safety.

There are exceptions to all of these rules under certain circumstances but unless adequate knowledge related to those circumstances is possessed, it is best to not deviate.

When I have time, I will get into acidification, canning, sushi etc.

If anyone has any questions, let me know.

BTW, enjoy dinner and Labor

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« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2016, 06:45:14 AM »

Wow, so much information.... thanks.... might have to print this out for future reference; in our house I do the grill and the wok.


Sid Lehr
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« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2016, 08:00:01 AM »

This should be a sticky thread available for review, and can be added to for other specific types of food prep, such as mentioned like canning, souvide and such. 
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« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2016, 08:27:16 AM »

 Lots of good information here! Eugene, thanks for posting this for us.


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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2016, 09:52:15 AM »

Great information...after suffering through two bouts with food poisoning I'm really careful with my food....can we sticky this for all to see?  Bill

It may not be very productive,
but it's sure going to be interesting!
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2016, 10:12:10 AM »

Yep, what they said!

Thanks for sharing with us.
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2016, 09:35:24 AM »

For those who wish to make (at home) sushi, sashimi, cured fish, etc....

As a rule of thumb, keep your fridge below 38F.. Keep all fish below 38F. This will control CBOT in anaerobic environments, control pathogenic growth, histamine development and slow spoilage.

Surface pathogens

50% of raw seafood carries Listeria monocytogenes. For those who want the references, I will provide my published fellowship journal article "Surface pathogen elimination practices for ready to eat fishery products". This is in addition to other pathogens that might be present from the fishing vessel and improper handling. Commercial and recreational fishing vessels don't have hospital like sterility and since all fish hit the deck, we are walking on our cutting boards...... Just think about that for a second.... Think about the cutting board that is used to cut bait in the sun all day, with a knife in the sun all day that is used to cut the fish you want to eat at the end of the day that is hit with a hose for the most part.....

The numbers are likely low for many pathogenic bacteria but they are there and some people are more sensitive than others. Elderly, children, pregnant, nursing, immunocompromised, diabetic, etc.... You need to be careful here. You don't want to find out the hard way (at the emergency room) or drop dead. Listeria can take a week to 30 days to show signs of illness.

For the home kitchen, soak all your fillets in a solution of 1/4 cap plain bleach per gallon of fresh water.  Leave for about 10 minutes or so. Then you can rinse if you like. This will provide a reduction of pathogens but you cannot guarantee a complete lethality. Better less than more.... Do this for all fish you get that will not be cooked.

Certain fish species carry parasites of public health significance, others do not.

For a quick reference, see the website below and scroll down to your species and see if parasites are checked.

Parasite containing species must be frozen properly to be killed without cooking. Brining and acidifying do not kill parasites adequately.

For most people at home, your fridge will get down to below -4F if you set it at the lowest setting where it should be anyway.

Your fish will have to be frozen at -4F for 7 DAYS without any breaks in between.  There are lower temps  and shorter times but most home freezers can't get that low.

Vacuum seal or Ziploc (with all the air taken out) your fillets and immediately place the fillets in the freezer 1 at a time until hard frozen then put the next one in. Putting them in all at once will kill quality that we will talk about later. Once they are all in and hard frozen, wait a week....

Defrost your fillets under running cold water in a pot in the sink. This will provide rapid defrosting which is essential for quality. Should take maybe 30-40 minutes... Remove immediately from the vacuum bag and place in the fridge.

For those curing fish such as herring.

Use a brining procedure under refrigeration that will achieve a minimum Water Phase Salt WPS level of 5%. Best to get a scheduled process from a process authority. This way when this fish is put in oil and refrigerated under 38F or less you have 2 barriers for CBOT toxin formation. Make sure to acidify any vegetables that your add to this with an pH or 4.6 or less. Again a process authority is a big help here.

For acidifying cured fish products. Salt levels will not deviate that much in acetic acid solutions. Some like to have a less salty but more acidic product and some like to have a more salty and less acidic product.

Be safe, keep all acidic solutions below 4.6 including any vegetables that might be added. A quick blanch of the vegetables in boiling water before acidifying can help in reducing pathogens. Make sure that the equilibrium pH is below 4.6 as some vegetables can raise the pH of the solution.

If you don't want a salty product, you have to make sure that the pH of the FISH drops to below 4.6 as well. A process authority can help here tremendously.

The safest bet is to have the fish with a WPS of 5% or greater with your veggies and the acidic solution at an equilibrium pH of 4.6 or less....


Critical factors for brining and acidifying include but are not limited to species of fish and vegetables, fat content, size of pieces of fish and vegetables, skin on or off, volume of fish, volume of brine, size of salt crystals, volume of salt, volume of brine, volume of acetic acid, time in salt brines/acidic solutions, TEMPERATURE CONTROL, etc....


Do your freezing if needed and your surface pathogen elimination and prepare any vegetables as indicated above.

Sushi rice- cooked WHITE RICE must be IMMEDIATELY acidified to a pH or 4.3 or less (USE A pH meter) if you want to let it come to ROOM TEMPERATURE. This is to control the Bacillus cereus which was heat shocked during the cooking phase. If not acidified to 4.3 or less your must cool from 135F to 70F in 2 hours and from 70F to 40F in another 4 hours.

BROWN RICE OR OTHER EXOTIC GRAINS- Brown rice and other exotic non polished grains have the bran and the germ surrounding each grain kernel.  When attempting to acidify, they PREVENT uniform acidification and MUST NOT BE ACIDIFIED WITHOUT PROPER COOLING.  The best way is to overcook the grains and make them burst. Add vinegar, mix and then cool properly as listed above ahead of time. The mixture will be gummy and when rolled will stick together like warm acidified white rice. Unless you have a scheduled process from a process authority that will drive acid into each grain during the cooking step with an equilibrium pH of 4.3 or less, FORGET about using this at ROOM TEMPERATURE.

Make sure to roll sushi with plastic sheets. Forget the bamboo unless your want to boil it after each use.


This is pretty easy as you will be eating this pretty quickly and it won't be sitting in the fridge for long.

Take your limes after washing in warm water and soak them in a solution of 1/2 CAP (100ppm) solution of plain bleach and water..  Let sit for 10 minutes or so and remove. This will help achieve a 5 log reduction of Salmonella on the surface on the lime.

Now squeeze your limes for your juice and refrigerate.

Blanch any vegetables as above and cut into pieces.

Cut your chilled fish into pieces after doing what is required above for raw fish and put in the juice mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Freezing and surface pathogen elimination are critical here.


For optimum quality, internal temperature of fish during freezing must drop from 32F to 23F ASAP. After 23F you still want to get down to -4F as fast a possible. This minimizes the time spent in what is called the critical freezing zone. This zone concentrates minerals and salts which damage cells and create large, pointy ice crystals when fish remain in this zone for a long period of time.  The best you can get at home is to put each fish fillet in 1 at a time until hard frozen to MINIMIZE the time spent in this zone. The shorter the time spent in this zone the smaller and rounder the ice crystals which results in less damage and water loss which means better texture and flavor.

CONVERSELY, defrosting must minimize the time spent in this zone as the concentrated salts and minerals can damage cells causing water loss, etc. Using running cold water just until the fish is just soft is the best bet and then put right back into the fridge or use immediately.


For those who want to read my Fellowship article related to surface pathogens, see the link below (page 48)

Any questions,  let me know.

I apologize for any typos ahead of time. I am a bit

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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2016, 10:50:10 AM »

Thanks JM501...

Saved your post in my cloud!


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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2016, 04:26:42 PM »

Eugene, I just read your article and it seems that most establishments had some procedure in place to reduce surface pathogens.  I am assuming that there has been no outbreak in surface pathogen related illnesses or you would have directed us to that problem.  Thanks for directing us to that information.  Dominick

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 Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2016, 04:39:45 PM »

Thank you for this Eugene...I have been very careful over the years of my less than professional cooking career and most likely have have broken a few rules. I'm pretty sure I haven't killed or gotten anyone sick, but will for sure keep this info by my side for future reference.

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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2016, 04:55:25 PM »

Alrighty then,
I only eat canned fish from members here.
I hope they are up to par. Wink
Ted's albacore is out of this world! Grin

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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2016, 05:19:43 PM »


Most had a procedure, none of which were validated......

The surface pathogen issue is something that no one wants to really get into because it will cause major ripples in the industry... No research,  no info, no

The salmonella and tuna scrape thing from 2012 was very big.... That was in my opinion from unsanitary conditions on the boat combined with unsanitary conditions during processing. There were lots of illnesses there...

Many restaurants do nothing and have no clue... Especially when it comes to the brown rice and sushi...

Many places still refuse to freeze fish for parasite control and many restaurants still refuse to wash hands and wear gloves....

70 percent of food borne illnesses have been estimated to be from the retail sector.....

Sometimes just going to a sushi place and having a roasted yellowtail collar is a good thing when in doubt.. Can't go wrong there...

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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2018, 10:00:27 PM »

Awesome thread - so much good information, and well presented. And so much of it is timeless (it's not gonna change!).
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2018, 06:05:59 AM »

It all comes down to time and temperature. If you remember that you cant go wrong.

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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2018, 05:44:48 PM »

Time and temperature prevents growth but does not eliminate presence. Eliminating the presence of pathogens is a large part of the battle.
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