Smoked Salmon & Botulism?

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by dryflylarry, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. I had five pieces of smoked coho left in my fridge and decided to send it to my Son in Korea. After thinking about it, I told my Son not to eat it when it arrives for fear of botulism and to throw it away. Anyone know much about this? I did not refridgerate it in the mail. It will take maybe as much as 7 days to arrive. Do you absolutely need to refridgerate smoked salmon? It was dry-brined with 1 cup of salt and 4 cups of brown sugar with a bit of garlic powder. It was in the smoker for 8 hours and was fairly dry. What did the native Amercian boys do back in the day? They ate smoked salmon right? Refridgeration?............naw. Everything you read about botulism is damn scary. Can you preserve it dry by adding sodium nitrate? Thanks Pals!
  2. The bacterium that causes botulism requires an anoxic environment (no oxygen). That is why improper canning is a problem because the canning process drives out oxygen and if the material wasn't heated high enough, the surviving Clostridium botulinum spores can germinate in the can; the bacterium produces the botulinum neurotoxin. I wouldn't worry about botulism from smoked (but not canned) salmon.
    Of course, there are other bacteria that can cause food poisoning, such as Staphlococcus aureus. But the salting and drying process creates a pretty inhospitable environment for bacterial growth. As you point out, Native American have been preserving fish by smoking for thousands of years. I would not discourage your son from enjoying a taste of the Northwest.

    Mi Ke likes this.
  4. Thanks for the info Steve. I was kinda feeling that way. Still, a little cautious.
  5. I take "indian candy" style salmon with me while hiking and have never had a problem.

    BTW: What's you son doing in Korea?
  6. Thanks for the info Patrick. My son is teaching English there with his girlfriend also. They came home from a two year Peace Corps gig in Moldova, and then ran off to South Korea. He is also quite involved with a friend in starting up a small art publication and also dabbling in his own artwork including photography. He recently got one of his photos published in an international photography exhibition there in Daegu. He's having a good time. He graduated from UW before going into the Peace Corps.
  7. Larry,

    Where is your son at over there? My best friend just finished up 2 years worth of teaching English in a couple areas in and surrounding Seoul. He did say that he ran into a guy that graduated from UW with a poly sci degree in 2008, same program and year as him but had never met him before meeting in Korea.
  8. Use the system I employed to stay alive during the late 70's in my youth. Tell your son to share with his friends ,if after a hour they are still alive, the stuffs good and as long as you only have half as much as they had your going to be fine!!!!
    Steve Call and Patrick Gould like this.
  9. Plus botulinum is gas producing, so if the packet it was in is taut and bubbled out, yeah, throw it out. If not mmmm....Most of the Native botulinum poisonings come from fermented whale meat or bad canning.
  10. Botulism poisoning from "bad canning" is what killed my paternal grandfather, way back sometime around 1924 or '25.
    Mi Ke likes this.
  11. I thought I had replied. But it would've been fine. Had a good friend who was a SGM periodically sent to Korea. I would send him vacuum packed smoked salmon on a regular basis that he'd share with the locals. They all survived the salmon. I froze it and sent it express mail (since UPS can't deliver to an APO).
  12. I am a health inspector and I was doing some research for the info on the botulism issues that came up with the Quinault Nation

    I ran across this forum and even though this is way late I needed to clear some stuff up in case other people read this thread.
    There are ways to properly store fish but no one should ever can or vacuum pack fish without knowing exactly what they are doing.

    Cabezon is right. ROP (reduced oxygen packaging) including canning and vacuum packing creates the perfect anaerobic environment for the Clostridium botulinum bacteria to thrive and produce the botulism toxin. This can be negated with proper cooking but many people do not cook it hot enough to kill the bacteria and neutralize the toxin. This is especially true if improperly smoked salmon is ROP packaged because it is typically eaten without reheating to the proper temperature.

    To be safe just find a way to store fresh or smoked fish without vacuum packing or canning. Use food grade plastic storage bags, butcher wrap or containers that do not have air tight lids. The best practice is to freeze fish first, then package, then keep it frozen until the package is opened again. After the package is open the fish can be allowed to thaw out.

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