Food Safety Issues/Vacuum sealed deer sticks

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Question
Hi!!  My husband and I are having a small disagreement on the safety of eating some deer sticks that are vacuum sealed, had been frozen, but due to the freezer quitting I am not sure if the deer sticks are still safe to eat.  We also had other packages of deer meat (roast, steaks etc) that were vacuum sealed but were totally thawed out and smelled terrible....that's what alerted us to the freezer not working.  Those packages took a hike to the garbage!!  He insists that the sticks are still ok though.  The sticks are fresh as we just got them from the guy who makes them from this seasons hunting trip.  Probably been in freezer for 2-3 weeks tops.  Not exactly sure when the freezer quit, but long enough for several packages of meat to thaw and smell, so don't now how long these sticks have been thawed. Don't now just what all they put in the sticks besides the deer meat and maybe some beef and pork and some kind of seasonings and cheese and such.  I will admit I am a "freak" when it comes to food safety.  If any doubt at all in my mind it gets pitched and I absolutely use nothing past an expiration date which also drives my husband crazy!! Totally freaked out by food poisoning!!  Any advice will help tremendously!!!  Thanks.  Deb

Answer
Tell your husband sorry but don't even think about consuming those "deer sticks". The rule is nothing is safe if it's potentially hazardous food if it is out of refrigeration below 40 degrees for more than 4 hours. If other meat thawed out and now smells it has certainly been out of refrigeration for more than 4 hours. There is a toxin risk here. It won't make the meat smell...if fact you wouldn't smell it at all! You can't remove toxins by further cooking or even microwaving. If there are beef and/or pork in the recipe that makes it even worse. Tell your husband all most all of the botulism poisonings now are from game meet, much of which was frozen after vacuum packing. Great question Deb. He's very lucky you were so insistent.  

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Carl LaFrate

Expertise

I can answer food safety questions relative to food processing, retail food and food salvage after a catastrophic event such as a hurricane, flood, ammonia leak or fire. Questions related to HACCP, Regulatory, GFSI, SQF, BRC, liability issues, contamination events, pest infestation, pest control methodology,food safety defense, pathogen prevention such as L. Monocytogenes control in food processing and retail, any subject related to food safety including at home issues.

Experience

30 years experience as a food safety consultant working for the top food processors, food retailers and insurance companies that write liability policies related to food processing, storage and distribution. My firm employees 6 full time food safety auditors. I work for top law firms throughout the USA and am a staff consultant for Douglas Peterson and Associates, one of the top forensic engineering firms in the world. I also work with Risk Solutions International, a global leader in risk management.

Organizations
New York State Association for Food Protection, past president, executive board Central Atlantic States Association of Food and Drug Officials

Publications
Progressive Grocer Magazine Smart Money Magazine Private Label Buyer Magazine Supermarket News Natural Foods Merchandiser Magazine Food Service Director Magazine NYS Association for Food Protection Annual Report NYS Association for Food Protection Newsletter

Education/Credentials
Syracuse University, Microbiology/Biology NYS College of Environmental Sciences, Plant and Environmental Biology Cornell University, Food and Dairy Processing

Awards and Honors
Wm. Hickey Award (2006), NYS Association for Food Protection, for contributions in the field of food safety and sanitation New York State Integrated Pest Management Award (2007), NYS Assoc. for Food Protection, for contributions in the filed of integrated pest management.

Past/Present Clients
Pillsbury, Agri-Mark, Associated Grocers, Beatrice Foods, Cargill, Southern Cold Storage, Quaker, Ben & Jerry’s, Delverde Pasta (Italy), New York Bakery, Cabot Cheese, Hazelwood Farms, General Mills, Price Chopper Supermarkets, P&C Supermarkets, Great American Supermarkets, Tops Markets, Big M Supermarkets, Big Bear Supermarkets, Frito-Lay Distribution Centers, IBP, Excell, Eckerd Drugs, Rite Aid Drug Stores, Fay’s Drugs, Carl’s Drugs, AWI Wholesale Food Distribution, McLane Food Distributors, Golub Food Distribution, many supermarket chains (many include large scale specialty food service operations), Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Darden Foods (Red Lobster, Olive Garden), LSG Skychefs (Germany, US), Glen Mills Schools, Cornell University, Crider Poultry, Caesar’s Palace, The Oneida Indian Nation, Taylor Meat Packing, UCB Packaging Films

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