Carolyn from Northern Wisconsin (Barron County) asks...
"I made bologna and forgot to put the cure in, but I did bake it for 4 hours @170degrees. My question is if I fry this before use, is it ok to use? I was told it was ok if kept refrigerated until I was ready to use it. On the other hand I was told to throw it. One said the cure was for bacteria and one said it was for taste. Which is correct? Thank You."
To start with the last part of your question, the main purpose of a cure is to prevent bacterial growth. Without the cure, if conditions are just right, certain bacteria can create a toxin that can be fatal if ingested. The cure also changes the flavor of meat, but that's secondary to its primary use, preventing the growth of bacteria.
By baking the raw bologna for four hours at the low temperature of 170 degrees, its internal temperature most likely hovered within the temperature "danger zone" (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least a couple of hours, maybe more. And in this temperature range, without the meat being cured, bacteria can grow and make the meat unfit to eat. And if the bacteria is the type that creates the botulinum toxin, you can't see or smell anything unusual or bad.
To be safe, your best bet, unfortunately, is to throw away that batch of bologna. If there's ever any question regarding the safety of meat, it's always best to not take chances. Eating spoiled meat can be potentially fatal.
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