That awful moment when you first spot it…
You have made a lovely slow cooker meal and you are just giving it a little stir before you serve it, when it appears…
The absorbent pad from under your raw meat has accidentally ended up in your slow cooker – and *gasp* – you’ve cooked it!!
Is you meal ruined?
Do you have to throw it out?
This actually happens a lot.
More than you’d realise.
At least a few times a week we see a member of our FB group desperately looking for advice on what to do when they realise they’ve done this.
So our goal today was to get to the bottom of it and what it means for you and your pot full of otherwise yummy slow cooked food.
What are they?
Absorbent meat pads or absorbent meat soakers are the little package that often sits between your raw meat and your butchers tray.
They are essentially an absorbent pad with an often plastic type of cover.
The purpose of the pad is to catch and absorb the liquid that naturally drains from raw meat and would otherwise pool in your meat tray and potentially spill out on you when it was tilted. It also helps prevent meat from sitting in a pool of raw meat juices that could bread bacteria and reduce shelf life.
The fact they are often black to begin with or soaked red with blood means that it’s easier than you may think to tip your raw meat into your slow cooker from the tray without realising you have tipped this in also.
What are they made of?
The butchers that I spoke to explained that the filling of these packets are usually paper pulp, plant fibers or non toxic silicone. They explained that the fact they are approved for use in contact with food that is intended for consumption, means that have to be of a food safe quality, so are non toxic.
They are not digestible, which means that even if you ate one it would go right through your digestive tract (http://www.tbo.com)
But what about when they are cooked over heat, does that change things?
Do I need to throw my meal in the bin?
The general consensus seems to be the same with everyone I asked – if the pad is broken or pierced in any way, sadly yes you should throw your meal out.
However if the pad is intact you may decide to still eat your meal if you are comfortable doing so.
A manufacturer of these pads (http://www.thermasorb.com.au/) also recommends if they are not broken then your meal is ok to eat.
The poisons information hotline agree. They said they too get a lot of calls regarding this issue and advise that if the packet is broken your meal should be discarded just to be safe. However in their experience if the packet is in tact most will have no ill effects.
As it is of course not intended for human consumption and is not a food product there is limited research into the effects of eating it. From their experience though, at worst those with a sensitive stomach may experience mild nausea or an unpleasant taste, but this is fairly rare and most of their callers experience no ill effects.
So the choice is ultimately yours 🙂
If the pad is broken or pierced we do recommend you don’t eat your meal.
If it’s intact then hopefully the information we have gathered here will help you decide if you will discard it anyway or still enjoy your meal.
Happy Slow Cooking!