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BBQ making me sick - need suggestions
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 2:05 pm    Post subject: BBQ making me sick - need suggestions Reply with quote

This is kind of embarrassing to post, but I've got to find a solution that's not "don't eat BBQ".

The last two times I've smoked food on my ugly pile of bricks "pit", I've woken up at night with a violently upset stomach. Not fun. Happened again last night, and now I'm fine, a part from being a bit tired.

Here's the strange thing though: my wife and kids are fine. I did chicken yesterday, and it got nice and hot both outside and in, and there were no undercooked bits. So I don't think it was the food itself. The same thing happened the previous time too - out of 10 people I was the only one who woke up retching. We'd had both my parents and inlaws over, so I was scared I'd made everyone sick somehow, but it was just me!

I used beech wood, briquettes, and some lump coal yesterday, and a similar mix the previous time.

I have done this before with perfectly fine results, on several occasions. Might not be the best BBQ ever, but it's fun, it's usually pretty good and everyone likes it, a lot (I live in Italy where it's not much of a done thing, so for many it's their first real low & slow BBQ).

No, I, didn't drink too much or anything else that I can think would have made me ill.

Any ideas of what to try to do differently?

Thanks
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you have any nut allergies?

Was the wood smoldering or burning?

Have you thought about a UDS you can cook a great meal on one?

Have you got pictures of the pit, the fire and the smoke as you are cooking, if not then take some and post them.
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No allergies that I know of.

The wood was smoldering - I burned it before putting it in the pit.

The grill was nice and clean. The rub was pretty standard stuff. Didn't use any sauce. We also tossed some potatoes among the coals, but once again, everyone ate those too.

Here are a bunch of pictures of various things I've cooked:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DavidWelton/posts/Vztd1KSFdZ3

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DavidWelton/posts/96kQRRC1L2W

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DavidWelton/posts/9CdDeqjCcfY

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DavidWelton/posts/g73Vno46dDA

We're probably moving to the US within the next year, and there I'll likely get a Weber Smokey Mountain or something like that. I don't really have the skills or time to make an UDS, unfortunately, and even more so because of the upcoming move.

I really can't make heads or tails of it :-/
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jess
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Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMHO but it sounds like something to do with the pit itself. You say no one else is sick, maybe something in the pit is galvanized, or something in the firebox area is alum. & melting - gassing off, etc. Good luck...
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jess wrote:
JMHO but it sounds like something to do with the pit itself. You say no one else is sick, maybe something in the pit is galvanized, or something in the firebox area is alum. & melting - gassing off, etc. Good luck...


What kind of temperatures do you have to hit for that to happen? I was definitely the one spending all my time watching over the thing, so that might make some sense, but the pit runs at low temperatures - less than 100C, generally. I use a digital thermometer to make sure the meat's internal temperature hits what is recommended. Mostly it just takes time. The coals are not in contact with anything aluminum or galvanized.

Thanks
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking around, I see some posts that look pretty similar to mine:

http://www.thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=7113&sid=03bb712163234b138ac494bca9a25fdc

and on another forum:

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=142674

I guess the 'scientific' approach of changing one thing at a time would make sense. But I don't want to go through another night like that if I can possibly help it.
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thsmoker
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reaching for ideas. Any chance the wood on top of the pit is treated with a chemical? Maybe condensation is forming on the wood and dripping on the food? Still a mystery why others not affected. Maybe you could change variables on a shorter cook like hot dogs. Good luck.
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Tony
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

davidnwelton wrote:
jess wrote:
JMHO but it sounds like something to do with the pit itself. You say no one else is sick, maybe something in the pit is galvanized, or something in the firebox area is alum. & melting - gassing off, etc. Good luck...


What kind of temperatures do you have to hit for that to happen? I was definitely the one spending all my time watching over the thing, so that might make some sense, but the pit runs at low temperatures - less than 100C, generally. I use a digital thermometer to make sure the meat's internal temperature hits what is recommended. Mostly it just takes time. The coals are not in contact with anything aluminum or galvanized.

Thanks


David,

You say the pit temps generally run LESS THAN 100'C.

I'm sure you realize that is 212'F (OR LESS)...Low temp for cooking Barbecue-especially fowl.

If it were me, I'd be running between 110'C and 140'C-
(230'F and 284'F). At LESS THAN 100'C, the food stands the chance of staying in the "Danger Zone" for longer than
suggested. (Typically, 40'F-140'F x4 hours).

How long does one of your cooks take (particularly Fowl) and at what internal temp did you take it to before removing from your pit?

I run my cooker at about 230'F-250'F and pull my chickens
out at about 175'F-185'F...Takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how muh beer I have on hand! Laughing

Good Luck with this and Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thsmoker wrote:
Reaching for ideas. Any chance the wood on top of the pit is treated with a chemical? Maybe condensation is forming on the wood and dripping on the food? Still a mystery why others not affected. Maybe you could change variables on a shorter cook like hot dogs. Good luck.


That's as good a guess as anything - but, yeah, it doesn't explain 'why me'. Also I've used the same boards for some time, so I'd have expected them to have done that more at the beginning, if anything. The wood is pretty seasoned looking now - nearly black in some spots.

The ground and old coals were definitely damp, as it's been pretty rainy here lately. That wasn't the case the last time around though.

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28 14 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tony wrote:

David,

You say the pit temps generally run LESS THAN 100'C.

I'm sure you realize that is 212'F (OR LESS)...Low temp for cooking Barbecue-especially fowl.

If it were me, I'd be running between 110'C and 140'C-
(230'F and 284'F). At LESS THAN 100'C, the food stands the chance of staying in the "Danger Zone" for longer than
suggested. (Typically, 40'F-140'F x4 hours).

How long does one of your cooks take (particularly Fowl) and at what internal temp did you take it to before removing from your pit?

I run my cooker at about 230'F-250'F and pull my chickens
out at about 175'F-185'F...Takes about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how muh beer I have on hand! Laughing

Good Luck with this and Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy


Let's see... it was about 4.5 hours and I took the chicken out at about 180F. They were not big, thick, pieces of chicken this time - in the past I've often used whole chickens and been ok. I had the pit running above 140F from the get-go, when I took the chicken out of the fridge, put the rub on it, dropped it on the grill and closed it up.

Sounds like increasing the temperature can't hurt though, so I'll add it to the list of stuff to change for next time.

Thanks!
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nksdad2007
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Joined: 28 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It strikes me as something you are testing that either is not done or was cross contaminated and by the time you feed everyone else, what ever it is, is heated to the point of being safe. The whole thing just reminds me of a story of a women that opened a jar of green beans she canned, sampled one, then heated them up for the family. They didn't get sick but she did. Turned out their was botulism in the jar that was killed off once heated up which is why she was the only one to get sick.
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nksdad2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i just looked through your pics, and it looks like raw bacon or something similar in your beans. did you try them at some point and they were starting to get warm but not really hot yet?
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nksdad2007 wrote:
i just looked through your pics, and it looks like raw bacon or something similar in your beans. did you try them at some point and they were starting to get warm but not really hot yet?


Beans were actually from last time. I didn't sample them until they were ready. My wife had some too at that point, and she was fine. The picture shows them when they were just getting started. The only thing in common in terms of food between the two was chicken.

Don't think sampling stuff too early was the problem.
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Tony
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

davidnwelton wrote:
nksdad2007 wrote:
i just looked through your pics, and it looks like raw bacon or something similar in your beans. did you try them at some point and they were starting to get warm but not really hot yet?


Beans were actually from last time. I didn't sample them until they were ready. My wife had some too at that point, and she was fine. The picture shows them when they were just getting started. The only thing in common in terms of food between the two was chicken.

Don't think sampling stuff too early was the problem.


Did you take the internal temp of EACH bird or Just one?

Gotta' be an answer here somewhere Exclamation Shocked Laughing Wink

Best Regards,

Tony Very Happy
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toymaster
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would consider a food alergy.
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nksdad2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ever had any gallbladder issues?
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Rinngrizz
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh man, well if it helps at all, I have the same issue. However, my discomfort is usually reserved for the next morning. As this happens to me pretty much every morning, I'm starting to think I have either a gluten allergy and the bread is getting me or I have a gall bladder issue. Have not decided which yet but about to start some testing.
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Will



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking that because you are the only one getting sick, it's most likely do to a food handling problem. Is it possible you're touching tongs, the grill handle, ANYTHING around your cooking area with contaminated hands after touching raw foods? It's soooo important to wash hands and to be conscious of what might have been contaminated by raw meat. Pay extra close attention to this area and I think your problem may go away. Get some bleach wipes and use them...ALOT! There is nothing inherent to barbequed foods that would cause you to be sick friend. If you aren't sure if something was contaminated by raw food-wash it and be sure. G'luck and hope ya problem goes away.
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jess
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

davidnwelton wrote:
jess wrote:
JMHO but it sounds like something to do with the pit itself. You say no one else is sick, maybe something in the pit is galvanized, or something in the firebox area is alum. & melting - gassing off, etc. Good luck...


What kind of temperatures do you have to hit for that to happen? I was definitely the one spending all my time watching over the thing, so that might make some sense, but the pit runs at low temperatures - less than 100C, generally. I use a digital thermometer to make sure the meat's internal temperature hits what is recommended. Mostly it just takes time. The coals are not in contact with anything aluminum or galvanized. You are cooking at low temp but your firebox is considerably hotter. Again since just you are getting sick I would suspect your cooking environment. It could be anything from a pc. of galvanized metal in your pit to a weed on the fence. Good luck...

Thanks
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davidnwelton



Joined: 25 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29 14 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see:

Gallbladder? Looked that up, and I don't think so. This only happens the night after I've eaten something I fixed, but not every time, and never with anything else I've eaten unless I've had a stomach bug.

Allergy? I guess I can try putting some rub on a normal piece of chicken and cook that with no smoke. It's pretty normal stuff though. Other than that, what would the allergy be? Smoked meat? Something in the briquettes or charcoal or wood that might set me off?

I think it must be something about the food, because once it's...uh...gone, I feel better pretty much right away. Last go-round I went back to bed and woke up hungry, ate, and went to work and felt fine the whole day, so the effects were pretty minimal once things had run their course.

Food handling recommendations are good. I'm fairly careful, but the wipes sound like a good idea.

I appreciate all the suggestions!
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