Is Sous Vide Cooking Safe

If you can pour water and put food in a storage bag, you can use the Sous Vide cooking method. Food is placed in an airtight vacuum pouch and then placed in the Sous Vide cooker water bath. The only thing that touches your food is the seasonings you put on it. There is no fat to cook it in, no other flavors to bleed through and no way to overcook or undercook your food. Sous Vide cooking is healthy and delicious and it is the newest way to cook wholesome food for your family.
Another common concern stems from the safety of the plastic itself, rather than whether or not the food is being cooked properly at lower temperatures. Because sous vide does require such low temperatures for the cooking process, it is perfectly safe to cook the food sealed in plastic, as long as the plastic is food-safe.
NSW Government Food Authority launched a proactive look into Sous Vide Cooking
On 12 December 2012 the NSW Government Food Authority launched their response into the rising popularity of Sous Vide Cooking at home and in restaurant kitchens it come to the following conclusion.
Sous vide seems like a new food service technology but it has a history spanning four decades in France and two decades in other countries. It has been found in many markets including extended shelf life ready meals.
Today it is used by catering companies, restaurants and, increasingly, home cooks. Sous vide has concerned regulators at times during its history. There are risks with sous vide that must be managed.
Leading sous vide chefs are aware of these risks and food safety has been prominent in their kitchens and recipe books. As far as can be determined from the scientific literature and foodborne illness databases, sous vide chefs have been successful in managing food safety and food poisoning attributed to sous vide has not been identified.
The risks associated with sous vide foods will be reduced if:
  • thinner portions of food are prepared so that heating and cooling are rapid.
  • water bath temperatures of at least 55°C are used so that the growth of Clostridium perfringens is first prevented and then destruction of the cells commences.
  • the time food is held at temperatures below 54.5°C during cooking is limited to 6 hours. • professional equipment with adequate heating capacity and excellent temperature control is used.
  • water and/or food temperatures are checked using a tip sensitive digital thermometer that is accurate to 0.1°C. • prepared foods are not stored for extended times unless processes have been validated.
  • risks are not compounded. Cooking large portions of mechanically tenderised meat for extended times at low temperatures would be irresponsible.
  • if you choose to include on your menu foods that remain essentially raw they should only be served following a request by an informed, healthy adult who willingly accepts the risks associated with raw foods. New practitioners of sous vide must be aware of the food safety risks and avoid overly experimental applications of the technology.
The full report by the NSW Government Food Authority can be found here http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/scienceandtechnical/sous_vide_food_safey_precautions.pdf
The NSW Government Food Authority guidelines can be found here http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/foodsafetyandyou/food-at-home/cooking-sous-vide
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