Some time back there was a discussion of marinades on RFC newsgroup. I found this interesting and printed below is the message and reply:
It is sent here with his permission. Sheldon has considerable formal training in food handling and has done a lot of cooking, both professionally and for his own enjoyment. I will not use a marinade for poultry as a sauce base. The probability of salmonella contamination (washed from the chicken, turkey, etc. while it marinated) is a bit higher than I care to risk.
Joe, Not necessarily true. If the marinade is used at the same time the meat is cooked, then it should have no more contamination then was present in the meat while the meat was marinating in it, and, depending upon the ingredients used in the marinade, maybe even less. The original purpose of a marinade was to aid in preserving meat ( note corned beef, and sauerbraten ). A 'proper' marinade is of high acid, and salt content, the acid to break down the fibers, and to tenderize, the salt to draw out the water, along with what ever organisms are suspended in it, and both to act as antiseptics. The addition of any alcohol, naturally increases the antiseptic nature of the marinade, but with alcohol, caution should be exercised, as it tends to inhibit the marinating process by sealing the outer portion of the meat. So consider this the next time you waste a whole bottle of good wine by soaking meat in it over night. Wine should be used for maceration only, short term, and then it would be a sin to not use it for a Proper marinating requires the meat to be totally submerged at all times. If any portion of the meat is exposed, then this is called macerating, and is not meant to be done for long periods of time, and this is where the trouble lies. When part of the meat is exposed to the atmosphere, then the exchange of fluids will be incomplete, and air will be drawn into the meat, along with oxygen, creating an environment even more favorable for organism growth then would have been present if the meat were left in it's original state. Inexperienced cooks tend to mix up a relatively small amount of flavorful solution, with little regard to the fact that the acid, and salt are in the wrong proportions, and then merely coat the meat, or partially submerge it. This is fine if it is only allowed to stay in this state for a very short time, no more then a couple of hours in the refrigerator, NOT over night. To leave meat, especially fowl at room temperature, this way, should be forbidden for more then half an hour.
Simply put, if what you are doing is a maceration, and properly, of only a few minutes duration, then there is no more risk in using the flavoring liquid as a food product, then there is in eating the cooked meat. When doing a proper marinade, i.e. long term curing, then if the solution did it's work, and the exchange has taken place, there is an excellent probability that what ever organisms were in the meat, are now in the solution, some proportion dead, some alive. Aside from that, the solution, by this time, is spent, and will contain mainly salt, and weakened acid, and the meat will have absorbed most of the flavor, so why would you want to eat it anyway?
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information written down, that is readily available, about the proper proportions for a true marinade solution. This information has been generally, a closely guarded family secret, passed down through the generations, within the meat processing industry, but mostly, this has more to do with the flavoring ingredients. There is information available, however, concerning the chemistry, if you will, that can be found quite readily. Write to the Dept. of Consumer affairs, Pueblo, Colorado, and ask for the appropriate government bulletins. You may find the information enlightening.
Sheldon Martin PS There is a tremendously significant movement going on right now within the regulating government bodies concerning revamping the entire meat inspection process in the U.S., where there have been little or no, changes in how meat is inspected since the late 1800s. More modern techniques have been available for a long time, but have been strongly resisted by the food industry.
Unscrupulous practices, and payoffs have run rampant long enough, in this very wealthy, and lucrative industry, cause we all gotta eat. Big changes are coming, and it's about time. The days of the sniff test, and buying the inspector's nose are at an end.