Tip of the Week
Cooking food via the sous vide method (water bath) is a perfectly safe method of cooking if you have a safe procedure in place.
The biggest additional hazard with sous vide cooking is the potential for multiplication of bacteria and production of toxins that may be aided by packing in a vacuum pouch. Bacteria such as Clostridium Perfringens, Clostridium Botulinum and Bacillus Cereus thrive in the absence of oxygen so care must be taken in handling, packaging, cooking, cooling etc.
- Store foods to be vacuum packed at low temperatures (ideally less than 4°C)
- Handle foods carefully to avoid cross contamination
- Cook at the right temperature – the bacteria are not likely to produce toxins above 45°C and will be killed after prolonged cooking at 54°C. According to figures published by the Food Standards Agency, the spores may be killed in 29 minutes at 80°C or in 1 minute at 100°C, with a range in between. The temperatures quoted vary with the type of food, and other factors have a significant influence.
- Cook for the right time – it takes several hours to kill the bacteria at 54°C and the time reduces as the temperature increases. You need to test or find out how long it takes to cook your chosen food at your chosen temperature.
- Use other control measures – salt, preservatives, pasteurisation, acidity control, etc. in addition to cooking. Each of these additional controls reduces the required cooking time.
- Separate vacuum packer for raw and ready to eat foods
So, what food safety records will you need to have in place?
- Fridge temperature records
- Vacuum Packing records
- Written Sous Vide Procedures
- Written Sous Vide Dish Specification – Recipe, procedure time and temperature of cooking
- Sous vide Records – record cooking times and temperatures
- Cooling times and temperatures
It is vital that the above records are in place if you use sous vide cooking or any specialist cooking methods.
Weekly Food Fact
Did you know that the term Sous Vide is French for “Under Vacuum”. This method of cooking is quite healthy as nutrients are not lost during the cooking process. Two French Chefs, Bruno Goussault and George Pralus, are best known for the invention of sous vide in 1971.
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