Sous-vide is a cooking method in which vacuum packed meat is placed in a water bath. The meat is cooked for longer and at a lower temperature than normally used. The water temperature is kept typically around 55 to 60°C. The aim is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside. This method maintains a lot of the moisture in the meat.
It should come as no surprise that the popularisation of sous-vide cooking has been met with a degree of suspicion with relation to food safety. The safety risk of cooking meat at low temperature has raised eyebrows with food safety inspectors.
Products cooked using the Sous vide practice are exposed to the same risks as other foods during preparation, cooking, cooling and reheating. These risks could lead to food poisoning and include;
· Products held between 5°C–60°C for too long could allow harmful bacteria to grow.
· Products stored at refrigerated temperatures for long periods could be at risk from bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes, which is able to grow at low temperatures.
· Products cooked at low temperatures for short periods could be undercooked and food poisoning bacteria may still be present in the food.
People using this technique have specialised equipment and monitoring tools that are suitable for the high level of control required. If there is any doubt as to the effectiveness of the control measures in place, then ATL can help. We are able to test the products cooked using the Sous vide method to see if there is a food safety risk post-cook. We can look for the presence of food poisoning bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria in our UKAS accredited laboratory.
Our testing can help to show if the exacting controls in place for sous-vide cooking are suitable for the safe production of the end product.
If this is a service that you require then please contact the Microbiology department to find out more.
The Food Standards Agency have worked with the Institute of Food Research to prepare a report regarding the food safety of Sous-Vide cooking. You can follow this link to access the report.