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Food Safety in Sous Vide Cooking

We are what we eat. People pay significant amount of attention to the food we eat and its safety, and that's why sous vide cooking has been the focus of the food world. In the past, sous vide cooking technique was practised by professionally trained chefs. With a sharp drop in the price of immersion circulator and other slow cookers, most home cooks are encouraged to get it a shot. As for this innovative cooking method with which most home cooks are concerned, it mainly boils down to three issues related to food safety in sous vide cooking, namely, safety of cooking in a plastic bag, under vacuum and at low temperature.

food safety in sous vide

Does it matter if the water does’t reach the boiling point?
Most people fear that food cooked at low temperature (that is, the water in the bath don’t reach the boiling point) will make one sick due to pathogenic bacteria. As a matter of fact, cooking via sous vide has the potential to achieve the effect of pasteurization and is as safe as othe traditional cooking method, as long as you follow guidelines such as temperture control and time. Your food does’t need to reach the boiling point to be edible. 

A few things to be noted regarding sous vide: 

It is recommended to cut your food like pork into several serving portions and have them sous vide, instead of cooking the big chunk. The reason for this is that cooking meat that has been cut into small portions means the possibility of reaching the desired temperature in a short period of time

Don’t stuff everything in the water bath. It is important to leave some room so that the water can circulate around the food items which can be more evenly cooked. 

sous vide food safety

Is it safe to cook under vacuum?
It is matter of anaerobic bacteria which can grow in low oxygen environment. The bacteria known as C. botulinum is responsible for this. However, if you set the temperature and time appropriately, the matter of cooking under vacuum is less of a problem than the storage after the food has been cooked. If you don’t comsume your food after sous vide immediately, the best bet is to chill it quickly and efficiently and store it properly in the refrigerator or freezer.

One of the benefits to cook under vacuum is the fact that the food will submeraged in the hot water bath, instead of floating around. 

What about the plastic bag to wrap the food products

Is it risky for health if food is sous vide cooked in a plastic bag? What if the harmful chemical substance is leached into the food, casuing people ill? No worries about it. The bags specifically used for sous vide are phthalate-free and BPA-free and don’t contain other noxious chemicals. So just go ahead with the plastic bag. 

sous vide safety

Precautions associated with food safety in sous vide:
Not all food stuff is fit for sous vide cooking, such as ground meat, whole birds and other ingredients and you are responsible for listing them out. Bear in mind that you have to select the professional and proper home equipment before you get down to sous vide your food. Finally, anyone who is immune compromised or in poor health shoud abstain from food cooked through sous vide. This is also true of the pregnant and the young.