Food Temps, Food Poisoning, and My Being Paranoid

Before I get into this question, I want everyone to know that I’m EXTREMELY paranoid, it’s my nature.

I work at a grocery store, and we sell rotisserie chickens. Today I was in charge of cooking them, as I have been before and had no problems. Today being an extremely stressful day otherwise, I think I made a mistake with them. I temped them, and they were all over 175 degrees. I took them out and put them in the warmer where people pick them up, take them home, and eat them. After I put them out, I started to think to myself that they looked a little lighter than normal. I got another thermometer, and got a different reading. I picked up all of the chickens and put them in the oven. Some were already sold.

I’m worried about the ones that were sold already. The temps do go down considerably after we take them out of the rotisserie, they have to be packaged and then put in the warmer. I told many people of the error, and everyone thought I was just being paranoid, (they know how I am). I had CERTAINLY eaten chicken that was cooked less than the ones put out. The person in charge thought they looked fine, but I’m still worried. I don’t remember what the temps were the second time I took them, but I know the ones I put in the oven were fine. I’m just damn worried. I know it’s not easy to help me out when you don’t know the second temp.

Is 175 degrees a loose “just to be safe” number, like Tylenol labels tell you to take 2 tablets?

When does food poisoning generally start showing effects?

Should I calm the hell down?

Thank you, and I will be more careful in the future

You worry too much. If no one else seemed worried about the situation, you shouldn’t be worried.

Until you get a complaint, there’s not much to be done besides forget this time and be prepared to deal with it next time.

A quick google turns up the fact that a temperature of 140 degrees is enough to destroy Salmonella, so you’re probably OK, though I’m no expert.

If you were doing a couple of hundred chickens a day to a too-low temperature, I might be concerned that someone might get sick within a few months. But one batch on one day? I wouldn’t worry.

-Smeghead, microbiologist

The “danger zone” for foods (ie. the temp range that permits the growth of most bacteria in foods) is 40° - 140°F.